Abe's body returns home as Japan grieves ex-PM

STORY: The body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has arrived back at his home in Tokyo, the day after he was assassinated by a lone gunman.

The rare act of political violence has shocked the largely crime-free country.

Mourners gathered at his residence and at the scene of Friday's (July 8) attack in the western city of Nara, where Abe was shot at close range with a homemade gun while delivering a campaign speech.

Police say the 41-year-old unemployed gunman, held a grudge against Abe.

The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, was arrested immediately after the attack.

He told police he believed Abe was linked to a religious group he blamed for ruining his mother financially and breaking up the family, media reported citing police sources.

Police have not identified the group.

Elections for seats in Japan's upper house of parliament are going ahead as scheduled on Sunday (July 10).

They are expected to deliver victory to the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, an Abe protege.

After making an emergency return to Tokyo on Friday after the shooting, Kishida was back on the campaign trail visiting regional constituencies.

A heavy police presence and a metal detectors were seen at a site where he is due to make a campaign speech.

In Nara, some 280 miles southwest of Tokyo, a stream of people queued up to lay flowers on a table, that also held a photograph of Abe.

One mourner, 50-year-old Natsumi Niwa, says Abe’s policies had inspired her to name her son ‘Kuni’, meaning nation in Japanese.

Abe was Japan's longest-serving modern leader and served twice as prime minister.

Abe's death has drawn condolences from across political divides, and from around the world.

A night vigil will be held on Monday (July 11) and according to media reports, Abe's funeral will take place on Tuesday, attended by close friends.

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