Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been shot, a government spokesman said Friday, as local media reported the ex-premier was showing no vital signs.” Former prime minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am,” in the country’s western region of Nara, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
Abe (67) was not breathing, and his heart stopped while being airlifted to the hospital for a gunshot wound, a fire official was quoted as saying. The fire department said that the former prime minister is in a state of cardiorespiratory arrest, a term often used in Japan before death can be confirmed by a coroner. Mr. Abe was shot at twice while he was giving a speech, causing him to fall to the ground. His attacker has been arrested.
A man, identified as Yamagami Tetsuya (41), has been arrested for attempted murder and a gun has been confiscated. He is reportedly a former Maritime Self-Defense Force member, according to news agencies.
Yamagami was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and was brought to Nara Nishi police station. The police also confiscated the gun and the confiscated gun appears to be handmade.
The national broadcaster cited police sources saying he was likely hit from behind by shotgun fire while delivering a stump speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency confirmed that Mr. Abe had a bullet wound on the right of his neck, and also suffered subcutaneous bleeding under the left part of his chest. It is unclear if both shots hit him, or if a bullet hit him on the neck and travelled elsewhere.
At the police station, Yamagami reportedly said that he shot former PM Abe since he was dissatisfied with him. Cops at the police station are listening to Yamagami’s statement, the news agency reported.
Abe was prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. He was the longest-serving prime minister of Japan. Gun violence is very rare in Japan, and guns are extremely difficult to own. Political violence is also extremely rare. The shooting of such a prominent figure is profoundly shocking in a country that prides itself on being so safe.
Meanwhile, Yamagami was immediately held by security officials and pinned to the ground, according to pictures and videos on social media. Authorities are still trying to figure out the motive behind the attack.