Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has been confirmed dead after he was shot at a campaign event on Friday, public broadcaster NHK and Jiji news agency reported.
“According to a senior LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) official, former prime minister Abe died at a hospital in Kashihara city, Nara region, where he was receiving medical treatment. He was 67,” NHK said.
In a shocking and unprecedented development, former premier Shinzo Abe, was shot at during a campaign for a parliamentary poll in Nara, Japan, on Friday morning. A man with a homemade weapon opened fire on the widely respected and popular statesman.
The incident sent shock waves through political circles and the general populace; Prime Minister Fumio Kishida slammed the shooting.
Struggling to control his feelings, Kishida said Abe, 67, was in critical condition and the assault on him was akin to an attack on the foundation of Japan’s democracy.
“Everything that can be done is being done to revive him. I’m praying from the depths of my heart that his life will be saved,” Kishida told reporters.
However, he said he was not aware of any motive for the attack.
Abe apparently suffered a cardiac arrest when he was medevacked or airlifted to hospital.
A 41-year-old man was arrested by police. The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, said he was dissatisfied with Abe and wanted to kill him.
Abe was delivering a campaign speech outside a railway station when two shots rang out at about 11.30 am (0230 GMT). Security officials immediately swung into action and pinned down a man in a grey T-shirt and beige trousers, according to Reuters.
Abe was wounded in the chest and neck area and was reported to be receiving transfusions.
He was Japan’s youngest Prime Minister since the Second World War.
Known for his “Abenomics” policy of aggressive monetary easing and fiscal spending, Abe served two terms as prime minister and resigned two years ago on grounds of ill health. However, he continues to be a powerful figure in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
“Deeply distressed by the attack on my dear friend Abe Shinzo,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and the people of Japan.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe,” he tweeted.
“Shocking news from Japan that former PM Shinzo Abe has been shot,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted.
“Our thoughts are with his family and the people of Japan at this time.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also expressed deep concern over Abe’s condition.