Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after he was shot while giving a campaign speech in western Japan at about 11.30am (Japan time) on Friday. He was shot in the chest and neck. A male suspect was arrested at the scene.
Prime minister Fumio Kishida said he was praying that Abe would survive and condemned the shooting as “barbaric and malicious”. Japanese media earlier reported that Abe appeared to have no vital signs, citing comments by the local fire department.
Prime minister Kishida said the suspect’s motivations were unclear. Japanese media has reported that he had been a member of the maritime self defence force for about three years, until around 2005. He told police he was frustrated with Abe and intended to kill him, according to national broadcaster NHK.
Media reports quoted police as saying that the weapon thought to have been used in the attack was homemade. Japan has a near “zero-tolerance” of gun ownership and an extremely low rate of gun crime.
Abe had been in the city of Nara giving a campaign speech ahead of this Sunday’s upper house elections when two gunshots were heard. NHK public television broadcast footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running toward him.
Prime minister Kishida said no decision had been made regarding the upcoming election schedule, but that he was asking all cabinet members to return to Tokyo.
Politicians across the world have expressed concern over Abe’s condition, including in the US, Australia, Indonesia and Taiwan. US secretary of state Antony Blinken said “This is a very, very sad moment. And we’re awaiting news from Japan.”
Boris Johnson has condemned the attack on Shinzo Abe, describing it as despicable. Politicians from the US, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia have issued similar statements.