Shinzo Abe
Shinzo AbeFile photo

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dies after being shot while campaigning

Tokyo, July 8, 2022

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died on Friday after he was shot while addressing an election rally in the city of Nara, according to state media.

"Officials say former Japanese Prime Minister #Abe Shinzo has been confirmed #dead. He was reportedly #shot during a speech on Friday in the city of #Nara, near Kyoto," official broadcaster NHK tweeted.

According to NHK, the attack took place at around 11.30 a.m. (local time) near the Yamatosaidaiji Station in Nara city while the 67-year-old Abe, Japan's longest-serving Prime Minister, was making a speech for a Liberal Democratic Party candidate's election campaign.

The police said that Abe was shot twice, with the second shot hitting him in the back, causing him to fall to the ground.

A 41-year-old man has been arrested for attempted murder, earlier reports said.

The accused has been identified as Yamagami Tetsuya, a resident of Nara city.

Investigative sources told NHK that a gun seized at the scene appeared to be handmade.

Abe was transferred by medevac to Nara Medical University Hospital in Kashihara city .

Emergency officials had said earlier that the former leader did not appear to have any signs of life.

The former Prime Minister was in the city to support an LDP candidate running in Sunday's upper house election and there was a crowd of people listening to his speech near the railway station when the incident occurred, says Kyodo News.

Confirming the incident, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters in Tokyo that "whatever the reason, such a barbaric act can never be tolerated, and we strongly condemn it".

According to videos circulating on social media, the first shot appeared to have missed Abe but the second one hit him in the back.

He immediately fell to the ground bleeding. Security then detained the attacker who made no attempt to run.

Abe became Japan's longest-serving Prime Minister after serving from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020.

He however, stepped down in 2020 citing health reasons.

He later revealed that he had suffered a relapse of ulcerative colitis, an intestinal disease, the BBC reported.

He was succeeded by his close party ally Yoshihide Suga, who was later replaced by Fumio Kishida.

Key figures from across the world have condemned the incident, with former Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calling it an "attack on supporters of democracy", while US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, said Abe had been an "outstanding leader of Japan and unwavering ally of the US".

Incidents of gun violence are rare in Japan, where handguns are banned.

IANS

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