US and international newspapers are headlining with the tragedy at Virginia Tech two days ago when a student went on a shooting rampage that left at least 32 people dead.
In many developed countries, it’s easy to think the gun violence issue is one limited to America, where guns can be purchased and carried in public. This is especially true in Japan, which is one of the safest countries in the world. But just 36 hours after the Virginia Tech tragedy, the mayor of Nagasaki city, Itcho Ito, was shot twice in the back in the centre of the city just outside of his campaign headquarters. He died several hours later.
The assasin, who admitted to the murder on the spot, was a member of the Yamuguchi Gumi, the largest yakuza crime syndicate in the country. The motive for the slaying appears to be the mayor’s crackdown on the involvement of organized crime in public works contracts. Mr Ito was campaigning for re-election (voting takes place on April 28th) for a fourth term as mayor of Nagasaki, and was extremely popular. It is not yet clear how this will affect the upcoming election.
Nagasaki is best known to the world for having been destroyed by an atomic bomb in World War II. But this is the second time in the last twenty years that a mayor has been shot. The last time was in 1990, when then-mayor was seriously wounded after saying that Japan’s Emperor bore some responsibility for the Second World War.