The Japanese military announced the death of two soldiers and injury of another on Wednesday, in a shooting incident at a firing range in Gifu, central Japan. The Land Self-Defense Force stated in a press release, “During a live ammunition training exercise involving new recruits, one person opened fire on three of the staff.”
The gunfire resulted in the death of one individual and the injury of two others. Later, the Land Self-Defense Force confirmed the death of another individual among the three gunshot victims. The government spokesperson, Hirokazu Matsuno, mentioned that a suspect had been apprehended but did not provide further details.
Local police informed the Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the shooter, an 18-year-old aspirant to join the Self-Defense Forces, was immediately arrested by other soldiers on the scene. An anonymous local police spokesperson told AFP that the suspect is being accused of attempting to murder a 25-year-old soldier, stating the suspect “fired at the victim with intent to kill”.
The national “NHK” station reported that one of the injured is a man in his fifties, with the other two in their twenties. A local resident reported seeing multiple emergency vehicles rushing to the scene around 09:30 local time (00:30 Greenwich Mean Time) but did not hear anything prior.
Aerial footage broadcasted by the station showed military and civilian personnel gathering around an emergency vehicle, with police cordoning off nearby roads. The shooting range is managed by the Morayama region camp and is a covered facility spread over 65,000 square meters.
Violent crimes are very rare in Japan, a country that imposes stringent restrictions on firearms possession. However, the nation has recently witnessed several major incidents, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July 2022