Shinzo Abe: Japan’s former prime minister assassinated by gunman while making speech

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Shinzo Abe: Japan’s former prime minister assassinated by gunman while making speech
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Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot during a campaign speech, according to local media.

Mr Abe, 67, who remains Japan’s longest serving prime minister after his resignation in 2020, was shot from behind while speaking at an event in the western city of Nara.

He was taken to hospital and was said earlier to be in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest. His death was first reported by the public broadcaster NHK.

NHK aired a dramatic video of Mr Abe giving a speech outside a train station. He is standing, dressed in a navy blue suit, raising his fist, when two gunshots are heard. The video then shows Abe collapsed on the street, with security guards running toward him. He holds his chest, his shirt smeared with blood.

 (JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)
(JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

The shooting of Mr Abe has prompted shock and condemnation both in Japan and overseas.

Police said a 41-year-old man suspected of carrying out the shooting had been arrested at the scene.

 (AP)
(AP)

Earlier, current prime minister Fumio Kishida said that while “everything that can be done is being done”, Mr Abe was in a “grave condition”.

Mr Kishida added that the “act of brutality” was “absolutely unforgivable”. He has asked all members of the cabinet to return to Tokyo. Elections to Japan’s upper house are due to be held on Sunday.

Leaders in Japan and across the world have reacted with shock to the news.

Shinzo Abe - In pictures

In Tokyo, people stopped on the street to grab extra editions of newspapers or watch TV coverage of the shooting.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the killing of Mr Abe was “incredibly sad”, adding: “His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many.”

"Japan has lost a great prime minister, who dedicated his life to his country and worked to ensure order in the world," French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the assassination "shocking" and "profoundly disturbing" and described him as a leader of great vision.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the news was “beyond tragic”.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said the news was "heart-breaking".

"We enter politics to serve and to try and make the world a better place," he tweeted.

The suspect gunman detained by a security officials (Twitter)
The suspect gunman detained by a security officials (Twitter)

"Shinzo Abe has lost his life in pursuit of that noble aim. May he rest in eternal peace.”

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she was “absolutely devastated”.

Before his death was confirmed, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was "devastated" by the shooting.

 (AP)
(AP)

She tweeted: "Devastated to hear about the attack on former Prime Minister Abe. We stand with our Japanese friends at this difficult time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was “deeply saddened by the heinous killing of Shinzo Abe, a defender of democracy and my friend & colleague over many years.”

Germany said it was at Japan's side after the shooting.

Mr Abe served two terms as prime minister, stepping down in 2020 citing ill health. But he has remained a dominant presence over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), controlling one of its major factions.

Mr Kishida, Mr Abe's protege, had been hoping to use the election to emerge from his shadow and define his premiership, analysts have said.

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