Former Japanese Prime Minister shot dead during speech

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot at during a campaign rally in Nara on Friday, the Japanese government confirmed, and showed no sign of life, according to local media.

“The former prime minister was shot dead in Nara at around 11:30 am. A man suspected of being the shooter has been arrested. Mr. Abe’s health status is currently unknown,” Chief of Cabinet Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

Citing police sources, state broadcaster NHK previously said a man in his 40s had been arrested for attempted murder and a gun was confiscated.

The alleged suspect in the attack.

Photo Reuters

The alleged suspect in the attack.

The 67-year-old former CEO was delivering a speech at a campaign rally ahead of Sunday’s Senate elections when gunshots were heard, national broadcaster NHK and Kyodo Press news agency reported.

“He was giving a speech and a man came from behind,” a young woman at the scene told NHK.

“The first shot sounded like a toy. He didn’t fall and there was a big bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and the smoke,” she added.

“After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him cardiac massage,” she said.

Mr Abe collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) told Jiji News Agency.


heart defect

Contacted by AFP, neither the PLD nor the local police could immediately confirm this information.

Both NHK and Kyodo reported that Mr Abe was hospitalized and appeared to be in cardiac arrest – a term used in Japan that indicates no signs of life and usually precedes an official death certificate.

Several outlets reported that he appeared to have been shot from behind, likely with a rifle.

Mr. Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He served a year in 2006, then again from 2012 to 2020 when he was forced to resign due to ill health.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel regretted the attack.

“We are all saddened and shocked by the exchange of fire on former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Abe-san was a pre-eminent leader of Japan and a staunch ally of the United States. The government and people of the United States pray for the well-being of Abe-san, his family and the people of Japan,” Emanuel said in a statement.

Japan has one of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and the annual death toll from guns in the country of 125 million people is extremely low.

Obtaining a gun license is a long and complicated process, even for Japanese nationals, who must first obtain a recommendation from a shooting club and then undergo a strict police check.

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