Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is dead after being shot Friday by a gunman during a stump speech for the weekend’s House of Councillors election, a Liberal Democratic Party source said.
Japan’s longest-serving leader was attacked by a 41-year-old man from behind at around 11:30 a.m. when he was speaking in front of Kintetsu Railway’s Yamato-Saidaiji Station, police said, adding he collapsed to the ground after two shots were heard. He was rushed to hospital with blood seen on his shirt.
Tetsuya Yamagami, a resident of Nara, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder, the police said. The suspect was formerly a member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, according to government sources.
“It’s not a grudge against the political beliefs of former Prime Minister Abe,” the Naha prefectural police quoted Yamagami as saying.
According to the disaster management agency, Abe, who was prime minister until 2020, was also wounded and bleeding on the right side of his neck with internal bleeding confirmed in the left side of his chest.
Abe, who was also the longtime leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was in the city to support a candidate running in Sunday’s House of Councillors election and there was a crowd of people listening to his speech near the railway station when the attack occurred.
A Kyodo News reporter at the scene saw the attacker silently approach Abe, who had been speaking for several minutes, before shooting him.
Louds screams were heard from the crowd and Abe fell to the ground seconds later. Yamagami was immediately apprehended by police officers.
A campaign staff member was seen desperately trying to revive Abe by pushing on his chest with both hands as he lay on the ground with his eyes closed. People nearby called for medical assistance.