Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was critically shot during a speech, authorities say


Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign speech in western Japan on Friday and was airlifted to a hospital but was not breathing and his heart had stopped, authorities said.

Local fire department official Makoto Morimoto said Abe was in cardiac and pulmonary arrest after being shot and taken to a prefectural hospital.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that police arrested the suspected gunman at the scene. “A barbaric act like this is absolutely inexcusable, no matter the reasons, and we strongly condemn it,” Matsuno said.

Public broadcaster NHK broadcast footage showing Abe collapsed in the street, with several security guards running towards him. He was reportedly shot a few minutes after he started talking outside a main train station in western Nara.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who belongs to the same political party as Abe, heads to Tokyo by helicopter from his own campaign destination, Yamagata, in northern Japan. Matsuno said that all cabinet ministers will return to Tokyo from their campaign trips.

In another recording, campaign officials swarmed him to address the popular former leader who is still influential in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and heads its largest faction, Seiwakai. Elections for Japan’s upper house, the least powerful chamber of its parliament, are on Sunday.

Abe was giving a speech when people heard gunshots. He was holding his chest when he collapsed, his shirt was stained with blood, but he was able to speak before he fell unconscious.

The attack came as a shock in a country that is one of the safest in the world and has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper printed additional editions, which were quickly grabbed by people on the street to read about the shooting.

Nara, once the capital of Japan, is located just east of Osaka on the country’s main island, Honshu.

Abe resigned in 2020 because he said a chronic health problem has resurfaced. Abe has had ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and has said the condition was controlled with treatment.

He told reporters at the time that it was “heartbreaking” to leave so many of his goals unfinished. He spoke of his failure to solve the problem of Japanese kidnapped years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia, and a revision of Japan’s renouncing war constitution.

That last goal was a big reason why he was such a divisive figure.

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 poor public support.

Abe’s supporters said his legacy was a stronger relationship between the United States and Japan that was aimed at bolstering Japan’s defense capabilities. But Abe also made enemies by forcing defense targets on himself and other contentious issues in parliament, despite strong public opposition.

Abe is a blue-blooded politician who was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military and a larger role in international affairs.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US officials expressed shock and concern over the shooting.

Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the people of Japan,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said while attending a Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

“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 of Japan. ”, US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel wrote on Twitter.

Former President Donald Trump said it was “absolutely devastating news” that Abe was shot and wounded. He said on his social media app that Abe “was a true friend of mine and, more importantly, of America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much. We are all praying for Shinzo!” and his beautiful family!”

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