Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe shot and fears death

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead at a campaign event on Friday, a government spokesman said, as local media reported that the ex-leader was showing no signs of life.

“Former Prime Minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters in the country’s western Nara region.

“One man, allegedly the shooter, was detained. Former Prime Minister Abe’s condition is currently unknown.”

“Whatever the reason, such a barbaric act cannot be tolerated and we strongly condemn it,” Matsuno added.

Local media, including national broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo news agency, said the former prime minister appeared to have had “cardiovascular arrest,” a term often used in Japan before a coroner can formally confirm fearful death.

The attack on the man who may be Japan’s most famous politician came despite the country’s known low rate of violent crime and tough gun laws.

Abe delivered a deceitful speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections in the presence of security officials, but onlookers were able to approach him fairly easily.

Footage broadcast by NHK shows him standing on stage as a loud explosion is heard and smoke is visible in the air.

The man is then seen being knocked down by security.

“He was making a speech and a man came up from behind,” a young woman who was present at the scene told NHK.

“The first shot sounded like a toy. He did not fall, and there was a strong explosion. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and smoke,” she added.

“After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him a heart massage.”

Abe, 67, lost consciousness and was bleeding from his neck, the source said in his ruling. Liberal Democratic Party This was reported by the news agency Jiji.

A staff member at Nara Medical University Hospital told AFP, “Now we can report that his transfer here is complete,” declining to comment on the former leader’s status.

“Sad and Shocked”

Several media outlets reported that he was apparently shot from behind.

Jiji said the government said a task force had been formed after the incident and the backlash had already begun to pour in.

“We are all saddened and shocked by the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,” U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rama Emanuel said in a statement.

“The US government and the American people pray for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, and the people of Japan.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s special adviser Gen Nakatani told reporters that “terror or violence is never acceptable,” Jiji said.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, served in 2006 for one year and then from 2012 to 2020 when he was forced to step down due to debilitating ulcerative colitis.

He is a hawkish conservative who pushed for a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to recognize the country’s military and remained a prominent political figure even after he retired.

Japan has some of the world’s toughest gun control laws, and annual gun deaths in a country of 125 million regularly hit single digits.

Obtaining a gun license is a long and complicated process, even for Japanese citizens, who must first get a recommendation from a shooting association and then pass rigorous police checks.

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