Japanese former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday.
Abe, 67, had been delivering a stump speech near a train station in the western city of Nara when he was shot by an assailant.
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot on Friday while campaigning for a parliamentary election, with public broadcaster NHK saying a man armed with an apparently homemade gun opened fired at him from behind.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida earlier said Abe, 67, was in grave condition. He condemned the shooting in the western city of Nara during the campaign for Sunday’s upper house election as an unacceptable attack on the foundation of Japan’s democracy.Â
Earlier, a hospital official said Abe appeared to be in a state of cardiac arrest when airlifted to hospital, after having initially been conscious and responsive.
Kishida also strongly condemned the violence, saying that the “barbaric”Â attack will not be tolerated.
Police said a 41-year-old man suspected of carrying out the shooting had been arrested. NHK quoted the suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, as telling police he was dissatisfied with Abe and wanted to kill him.
“Such an act of barbarity cannot be tolerated,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters, adding that Abe had been shot at about 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT).
Abe Was Badly Injured
NHK showed video of Abe making a campaign speech outside a train station when two shots rang out, after which the view was briefly obscured and then security officials were seen tackling a man in a grey T-shirt and beige trousers. A puff of smoke behind Abe could be seen in another video shown in NHK.
Kyodo published a photograph showing Abe lying face-up on the street by a guardrail, blood on his white shirt. People were crowded around him, one administering heart massage.
TBS Television reported that Abe had been shot on the left side of his chest and apparently also in the neck.
Political violence is rare in Japan, a country with strict gun regulations.
In 2007, the major of Nagasaki was shot and killed by a yakuza gangster. The head of the Japan Socialist Party was assassinated during a speech in 1960 by a right-wing youth with a samurai short sword.
“I thought it was firecrackers at first,” one bystander told NHK.
Airo Hino, political science professor at Waseda University, said such a shooting was unprecedented in Japan.
“There has never been anything like this,” he said.
Police said the suspected shooter was a resident of Nara. Media said he had served in Japan’s military.
Abe served two terms as prime minister, stepping down in 2020 citing ill health. But he has remained a dominant presence over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), controlling one of its major factions.
Kishida, Abe’s protege, had been hoping to use the election to emerge from Abe’s shadow and define his premiership, analysts have said. Kishida suspended his election campaign after Abe’s shooting.Â – New Malaysia Herald