Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on Friday shot at in western Japan, reported Japan-based media house NHK. He was rushed to the hospital, where he reportedly showed “no vital signs.”

Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe collapsed and was bleeding after apparently being shot during a campaign speech in western Japan, NHK public television said Friday.

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NHK says Abe was bleeding when he collapsed and was rushed to a hospital.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots in the apparent attack in Nara. He was standing while making an election campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house.

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“Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo collapsed during a speech in the city of Nara, in western Japan. Initial reports say he may have been injured. An NHK reporter on site heard something that sounded like a gunshot, and saw Abe bleeding,” it said in an alert.

The incident occurred at around 11.30 am (8.29 am IST) on Friday.

Kyodo News said that the former PM was not conscious and appeared to be in cardiac arrest.

The attack was a shock in a country that’s one of the world’s safest and with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere.

The term heart failure means the heart cannot sufficiently pump blood and supply necessary oxygen to the rest of the body. In Japan, officials sometimes use the term to describe situations where victims are no longer alive but before a formal declaration of death has been made.

It was not immediately clear how serious Abe’s injuries were or if he was still displaying vital signs.

Abe stepped down 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 “gut wrenching” to leave many of his goals unfinished. He spoke of his failure to resolve the issue of Japanese abducted years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia and a revision of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution.