Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese PM, has died after being shot earlier in the day, according to news agency NHK. Abe, 67, was shot from behind minutes after he started his speech Friday in Nara in western Japan.
He was airlifted to a hospital for emergency treatment but was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.
The 67-year-old Abe was Japan’s longest-serving leader before stepping down for health reasons in 2020.
Police arrested the suspected gunman, Tetsuya Yamagami, at the scene of the attack, which shocked people in a country known as one of the world’s safest. NHK reported that the Tetsuya Yamagami served in the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years in the 2000s.
Media reports suggest two shots were fired at the scene. Officials later confirmed that Abe was shot on the right side of his neck. The former Prime Minister’s brother and Japan’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi earlier said that Abe was getting “sensible treatment, including a blood transfusion.” Abe’s wife had also reportedly reached the Nara Medical University, where he was being treated.
NHK aired a dramatic video of Abe giving a speech outside a train station in the western city of Nara. He is standing, dressed in a navy blue suit, raising his fist, when two gunshots are heard. The video then shows Abe collapsed on the street, with security guards running toward him. He holds his chest, his shirt smeared with blood.
In the next moment, security guards leap on top of a man in gray shirt who lies face down on the pavement. A double-barreled device that appeared to be a handmade gun is seen on the ground.
“I use the harshest words to condemn (the act),” current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said as he struggled to control his emotions. He said the government planned to review the security situation.