SDF Recruit Faces Additional Murder Charge for Fatal Shooting in Central Japan

The Defense Ministry has announced that a Ground Self-Defense Force (SDF) recruit, involved in a fatal shooting incident during a live-fire training exercise in central Japan last month, has been served a fresh arrest warrant on suspicion of murder. The incident resulted in the deaths of two instructors and left another injured.

The 18-year-old recruit, whose name has not been disclosed, is accused of murdering Yasuchika Kikumatsu, a 52-year-old instructor, during the exercise that took place at an indoor firing range in Gifu Prefecture on June 14. The training involved approximately 120 personnel, including around 70 recruits.

Tragic Details Uncovered

According to sources familiar with the investigation, the recruit allegedly shot Kikumatsu in the head and subsequently fired additional rounds into his back after he had fallen face-down. The details paint a grim picture of the tragic incident that unfolded during the training session.

Two other instructors, Kosuke Yashiro and Yusuke Hara, both 25 years old, attempted to intervene and stop the recruit from firing at Kikumatsu. Tragically, Yashiro lost his life in the line of duty, while Hara sustained injuries to his left leg and will require three months to recover.

Previous Arrest and Intended Actions

Initially, the recruit was arrested for the alleged murder of Yashiro. During questioning, he revealed to investigators that he had intended to target Yashiro’s legs but inadvertently hit him in the side. Furthermore, the recruit admitted to having plans to obtain ammunition belonging to the GSDF (Ground Self-Defense Force).

Extended Investigation Period

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada disclosed on Tuesday that the recruit’s candidacy term to become a formal GSDF member, which was originally set to expire on June 27, has been extended for an additional three months. This extension aims to allow the Ministry to conduct thorough investigations into the tragic incident.

As the investigation continues, the Defense Ministry and relevant authorities are working diligently to uncover all relevant details surrounding the shooting. The incident has raised questions about training protocols, safety measures, and the overall well-being and mental health support provided to SDF recruits.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and colleagues affected by this devastating incident. The Defense Ministry remains committed to ensuring justice is served and to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future through enhanced training practices and improved oversight.

© KYODO

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