This image received from the Asahi Shimbun newspaper shows a man (centre R) suspected of shooting former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe being tackled to the ground by police at Yamato Saidaiji Station in the city of Nara on July 8, 2022. - Abe was pronounced dead on July 8, the hospital treating him confirmed, after he was shot at a campaign event in the city of Nara. (Photo by ASAHI SHIMBUN / AFP) / Japan OUT - NO Internet / NO ARCHIVES

The assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is said to have originally targeted the leader of a religious group. The Japanese news agency Kyodo learned on Saturday from investigators that the 41-year-old Japanese man who had been arrested the day before had testified during the interrogation.

The day before, the man had shot Abe from behind with a homemade gun from a distance of three meters while he was giving a campaign speech in the city of Nara. He was “dissatisfied” with Abe and wanted to “kill” him, he was quoted as saying. He held a grudge against an organization that he believed had ties to Abe. What is meant is an unnamed religious group, it said.

The assassination had caused horror all over the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping also sent his condolences to the country. “On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and on his own behalf, Xi Jinping has expressed his heartfelt condolences over the untimely death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,” Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Saturday. The President also condoled Abe’s family. Xi was “deeply saddened” by the death of the former prime minister.

Abe served as Prime Minister of Japan from 2006 to 2007 and then from 2012 to 2020. He was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

Abe’s body has since been transferred to Tokyo. A hearse arrived at Abe’s home in the Japanese capital on Saturday. Television footage showed senior members of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LPD) gathering to pay their last respects to the ex-Prime Minister.

According to Japanese media, a wake will be held for the former prime minister on Monday evening. His funeral should therefore take place on Tuesday in the closest circle.

Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world and has extremely strict gun laws. The assassination happened shortly before elections to the upper house of the national parliament this Sunday. Despite the assassination, they should take place as planned, the government said.