People lay flowers 2 years after fatal shooting of former Japanese PM Abe Shinzo

People have been laying flowers in the western city of Nara, where former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was fatally shot while delivering a campaign speech exactly two years ago.

The shooting took place in an area near Yamato-Saidaiji Station on July 8, 2022.

A tent for condolence flowers was set up Sunday near the scene. It was arranged by the Nara Prefecture branch of the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Yamagami Tetsuya, 43, was indicted on charges including homicide and illegal possession of weapons.

Yamagami reportedly told investigators he had attacked Abe because he believed the former prime minister had close ties with a religious group formerly known as the Unification Church. He allegedly said he had developed a grudge against the group after his mother donated large sums of money to the group.

Pre-trial procedures have taken place four times so far at the Nara District Court to organize key issues, such as evidence and points of contention, before the first hearing.

Sources say evidence to be presented has been mostly sorted out. Officials from the court, prosecution and defense counsel are currently narrowing the scope of the points of contention. They are discussing whether the homemade guns possessed by Yamagami apply to handguns and other firearms under the law.

The case is likely to be heard in a lay judge trial, but the date of the trial has yet to be decided. The defense counsel expects the first hearing to be held in 2025, or later.