Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was critically injured during his presidential campaign

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead during a campaign speech on Friday in the country’s west.

Local fire department official Makoto Morimoto said Abe went into cardiac and pulmonary arrest after being shot, meaning he was not breathing and his heart stopped when he was airlifted to the prefectural hospital.

Police arrested a male suspect at the scene of the shooting.

country in shock

Japanese public broadcaster NHK aired footage of Abe collapsing on the street as several guards run towards him. He was bleeding and holding his chest.

Abe was campaigning in Nara ahead of Sunday’s elections for Japan’s upper house and was making a speech when people heard the gunshot.

The attack came as a shock to a country that has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world.

It was not immediately clear how serious Abe’s injuries were.

Dividing figure

Abe, 67, stepped down as prime minister in 2020 after a chronic health problem resurfaced. He has had ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager, but he said his condition was being controlled with treatment.

He told reporters at the time that it was “well painful” to leave many of his goals unfinished. He talked about his failure to solve the problem of the Japanese abducted years ago by North Korea, the territorial dispute with Russia, and the revision of the constitution of Japan refusing to war.

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

Abe’s supporters said his legacy was a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship. But Abe has also made enemies by pushing his defense goals and other contentious issues through parliament despite strong public opposition.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel expressed regret and shock at the shooting. “Abe-san was an outstanding leader of Japan and an unwavering ally of the United States. The US government and the American people pray for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, and the people of Japan,” he tweeted.