He was visibly emotional after the former leader’s death was confirmed, pronouncing himself “lost for words”.
International reaction was similarly stark, with US President Joe Biden saying he was “stunned, outraged and deeply saddened”, and ordering flags on US government buildings to fly at half-mast.
Even regional powers with whom Abe had clashed expressed condolences. South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol called the killing an “unacceptable act” and the Chinese embassy in Japan praised Abe’s “contribution to the improvement and development” of ties.
Investigators were still piecing together a picture of the man behind the assassination and his motives.
He has been identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, and police said Friday he admitted targeting Abe over a grudge against an organization he believed the former leader was linked to.
They have declined to name the organization, though several Japanese media outlets described it as a religious group.
The gun he used “is clearly handmade in appearance”, investigators said, and several other apparently handmade weapons were uncovered by police in protective gear who raided Yamagami’s home on Friday.
The suspect, who has been arrested on suspicion of murder, opened fire on Abe shortly before noon on Friday.
Footage from public broadcaster NHK showed Yamagami, dressed in a grey shirt and brown trousers, approaching from behind before drawing a weapon from a bag.