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Following Abe's death, Japan MSDF chief says members aren't trained to build homemade guns

Suspect Tetsuya Yamagami is seen while being sent from Nara Prefectural Police's Nara Nishi Police Station to prosecutors in the city of Nara on July 10, 2022. (Mainichi/Daiki Takikawa)

TOKYO -- The chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) denied on July 19 that its members have ever been trained to build homemade guns, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with a weapon crafted by a former MSDF member.

    "The ability to make guns by oneself is not acquired through education and training at the Self-Defense Forces (SDF)," said Admiral Ryo Sakai, chief of staff of the MSDF, at a press conference on July 19.

    Commenting on the arrest of Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old ex-MSDF officer, over the July 8 attack on the former prime minister, Sakai said, "The use of violence to suppress speech and kill or injure people is absolutely unacceptable. We will continue to cooperate with the police investigation."

    The suspect served in the MSDF from 2002 to 2005 as a fixed-term officer. He was assigned to a department that handled artillery on destroyers. During training, which took place about once a year, he received basic instruction on gun operations, marksmanship, and disassembly and reassembly for gun care.

    Sakai said, "Compared to civilians who have never touched a gun at all, I think he had gained some knowledge." On the other hand, he added, "Procuring gunpowder and making guns by oneself is a skill that is not acquired through normal service. The SDF does not provide that kind of education and training."

    While working at the MSDF, Yamagami was troubled by the relationship between his mother and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, commonly known as the Unification Church, and allegedly attempted suicide. Sakai refrained from explaining this point, saying that it involved personal information.

    (Japanese original by Toshiaki Uchihashi, Tokyo City News Department)

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