Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot while making a campaign speech in the western city of Nara, Japanese media reported.
A shot was heard around 11:30am Friday morning as witnesses say Mr. Abe collapsed in the street. A male suspect was detained at the scene, public service broadcaster NHK reported.
An NHK reporter at the scene said they heard two consecutive explosions during Abe’s speech, and the station also quoted police as saying the politician was shot in the back with a shotgun.
Kyodo News reported that the former prime minister was unconscious and appeared to be in cardiac arrest, and other local media reports indicated that he was showing no vital signs. However, there has been no official confirmation of his condition.
“The condition of former Prime Minister Abe is not currently known, and we are reviewing the situation,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters at an emergency news conference at the prime minister’s office.
Images broadcast by Japanese broadcasters showed Abe lying in the street with several security guards running towards him. He was holding his chest when he collapsed, his shirt stained with blood.
Another video shows a cloud of smoke at the moment the shot was fired, though not at the shooter.
The prime minister was giving a speech ahead of Sunday’s elections for the upper house of parliament at the time of the attack.
Authorities detained a 42-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder, Kyodo reported.
The attack is a particular shock in a country that is among the safest in the world and with some of the strictest gun control laws in the world.
Some broadcasters described Mr. Abe as having “heart failure,” a term that formally means the heart can’t pump enough blood and deliver needed oxygen to the rest of the body. In Japan, officials sometimes use this term in situations where the victims are no longer alive but before a formal declaration of death has been made.
The US ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, expressed sadness and shock at the shooting. “Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and a staunch ally of the US. The US government and the American people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, and the people.” from Japan,” he said on Twitter.
Abe, 67, resigned as prime minister in 2020 and reported that a chronic health problem had resurfaced. He has had ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and has said the condition was controlled with treatment.
“What worries me most now is that because of my resignation, the conservative ideals put forward by the Abe administration will fade,” Abe later wrote in the magazine. bungei shunju.
“From now on, I want to sacrifice myself as a legislator to make true conservatism take root in Japan.”
He told reporters at the time that it was “heartbreaking” to leave many of his goals unfinished.
He then launched a three-pronged “Abenomics” strategy to beat persistent deflation and revive economic growth with hyper-loose monetary policy and fiscal spending, along with structural reform to deal with a rapidly aging and shrinking population.
He was instrumental in the victory of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, nurturing the desire to preside over the Games and even appeared as Nintendo’s video game character Mario during the Olympic Games delivery.
His ultra-nationalism angered the Koreas and China, and his push to normalize Japan’s defense posture angered many Japanese. Abe failed to achieve his cherished goal of formally rewriting the US-drafted anti-war constitution due to low public support.
Additional Agency Reports