Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe has been shot multiple times by a Maritime SDF soldier after giving a speech in Nara, Japan campaigning for a parliamentary election. From photos and videos of the incident it appears the weapon used to shoot him was an improvised makeshift sawed off shotgun. Abe in critical/serious condition after attack, PM Kishida says. Kyodo news agency and NHK said Abe, 67, appeared to be in a state of cardiac arrest when airlifted to hospital, after having initially been conscious and responsive. “Such an act of barbarity cannot be tolerated,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters, adding that Abe had been shot at about 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT). Reportedly on life support according to local sources.
Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency provided an update on Abe’s condition, noting he suffered from cardiopulmonary arrest, a gunshot wound and bleeding on the right neck, and subcutaneous bleeding in the left chest. Abe was originally not scheduled to visit Nara, local broadcaster FNN is saying. He was there today only because of a last-minute change in his schedule.
Video shows suspect using a reported handmade shotgun, firing two blasts into former PM Abe. His condition has been reported as critical and rumors are swirling of no vital signs. The suspect was a member of the Maritime SDF (Japanese Self-Defense Force) for three years through about 2005, NHK is reporting. NHK has identified the man as Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old resident of the city of Nara. Yamagami reportedly told investigators that he was dissatisfied with Abe and targeted him with an intention to kill, NHK reports, citing police.
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Political violence is rare in Japan, a country with strict gun regulations. In 2007 the Mayor of Nagasaki was shot and killed by a yakuza gangster. The head of the Japan Socialist Party was assassinated during a speech in 1960 by a right-wing youth with a samurai short sword.
Abe served two terms as prime minister to become Japan’s longest-serving premier before stepping down in 2020 citing ill health, however has maintained strong influence over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), controlling one of its major factions. His protégé, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, goes into Sunday’s upper house election hoping, analysts say, to emerge from Abe’s shadow and define his own leadership style.
Many international leaders and nations are now either condemning the shooting and/or sending their sympathies and prayers to Abe and his loved ones as the news spreads across the world. During a press conference the Prime Minister Kishida said that the attack on Abe, particularly coming in the middle of the election campaigning, is unforgivable. He also says he is praying for Abe’s recovery. Kishida says he will confirm whether security measures were sufficient. Kishida says he “wants to believe” that security officers were doing their best at the site of the shooting. He refrained from commenting on how this might impact this weekend’s scheduled election — and doesn’t touch on whether it could be postponed or canceled. Kishida also said he will gather cabinet officials in Tokyo to discuss the incident and any measures, adding that Medical personnel are doing their very best to treat Abe while he is in a grave condition.