Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving leader of

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving leader of

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving leader, died on Friday after being shot while campaigning for parliamentary elections, NHK reported.

A man opened fire on 67-year-old Abe from behind with an apparently homemade gun while speaking in the western town of Nara, Japanese media reported earlier.

It was the first assassination of a former Japanese prime minister during militarism before the war in the 1930s.
Speaking before Abe’s death was announced, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the armed attack in “the strongest terms”, while the Japanese and world leaders expressed their shock at the violence in a country where political violence is rare. and weapons are strictly controlled.

“This attack is an act of brutality that took place during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and it is absolutely unforgivable,” Kishida said, struggling to keep his emotions in check.
A fire official said Abe appeared to be in cardiac arrest when he was flown to hospital.

Police said a 41-year-old man suspected of the shooting was arrested. NHK quoted the suspect, identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, as telling police he was unhappy with Abe and wanted to kill him.

Abe was giving a campaign speech in front of a train station when two gunshots rang out around 11:30 a.m. Security officials were then seen approaching a man in a gray T-shirt and beige pants.
“There was a loud bang and then there was smoke,” businessman Makoto Ichikawa, who was on the scene, told Reuters, adding that the gun was the size of a television camera.

Yomiuri Shimbun / KYODO via REUTERS

Earlier, the Kyodo news service published a photo of Abe lying face up on the street, next to a railing, with blood on his white shirt. People were crowded around him, one massaging his heart.

Nara, western Japan, July 8, 2022. Kyodo photo credit through REUTERS

Nara emergency services said he was injured in the right side of his neck and left collarbone. His brother, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, said Abe was receiving blood transfusions.

NHK showed live footage of Abe’s wife, Akie, on the train to the hospital where he was being treated.

Airo Hino, a professor of political science at Waseda University, said such a shooting was unprecedented in Japan. “There has never been such a thing,” he said.

High-ranking Japanese politicians are accompanied by armed security guards, but they often approach the public, especially during political campaigns when they give speeches on the side of the road and give good luck to passers-by.

In 2007, the mayor of Nagasaki was shot and killed by a yakuza gangster. The leader of the Japanese Socialist Party was assassinated during a 1960 speech by a right-wing young man with a short samurai sword. Several other prominent post-war politicians were attacked but not injured.

Police said the suspect was a resident of Nara. The press said he served in the Japanese army for three years, until 2005. Defense Minister Kishi declined to comment.

Abe served two terms as prime minister, resigning in 2020, citing health issues. But he remained a dominant presence over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), controlling one of its major factions.

Kishida, Abe’s protégé, hoped to use the election to step out of Abe’s shadow and define his position as prime minister, analysts said. Kishida suspended his election campaign after the armed attack. All major political parties condemned the attack.