HORROR: Japan's Former PM Shinzo Abe Assassinated

(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Update 5:20 a.m. Eastern: From NHK:

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party officials say former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has died. Abe was shot during a speech Friday in the western city of Nara.

An NHK reporter on site heard what sounded like two gunshots at around 11:30 a.m. She saw Abe collapse and bleed, before he was taken to hospital.

Police say they have arrested a 41-year-old man for attempted murder. Defense Ministry sources say he worked for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years up to 2005.

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He was 67.

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Update 2:40 a.m. Eastern: From NHK:

Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo reportedly remains in hospital without vital signs after being shot on the street in the western prefecture of Nara.

Police have arrested Yamagami Tetsuya for attempted murder. Investigative sources told NHK a gun seized at the scene appeared to be handmade.

The 41-year-old suspect lives in Nara city where the shooting took place. Defense sources say the suspect worked for the Maritime Self Defense Force for three years until around 2005.

Police say the suspect told investigators that he was dissatisfied with the former prime minister and intended to kill him.

Original story:

Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan, suffered gunshot wounds to the head and the chest while giving a speech in Nara in western Japan.

Witnesses reported hearing two gunshots before Abe collapsed, clutching his chest and bleeding.

“He was giving a speech and a man came from behind,” one witness at the scene told NHK.

“The first shot sounded like a toy. He didn’t fall and there was a large bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and smoke,” she added. “After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him cardiac massage.”

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Some outlets are reporting that Abe has died, while others say he was conscious and responsive immediately after the shooting but later went into cardiac arrest. Japanese broadcaster NHK is reporting that Abe “remains in hospital without vital signs” and is in critical condition. The current prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said that “medical workers are working hard” to save Abe and called the attack “barbaric.”

The shooter, a male Nara resident in his 40s, is in police custody.

It appears he may have used some kind of homemade sawed-off shotgun:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that “Former prime minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am” local time.

“One man, believed to be the shooter, has been taken into custody. The condition of former prime minister Abe is currently unknown,” he added. “Whatever the reason, such a barbaric act can never be tolerated, and we strongly condemn it.”

Abe was the first world leader to meet with President Trump after his 2016 election and the two had a warm relationship. Trump posted on Truth Social early Friday morning:

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The official account for American Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel tweeted a response shortly after the news broke:

President Biden has apparently not yet been roused from his slumber to comment on the situation. No doubt his staff is scrambling to figure out a way to blame Trump for the shooting.

Abe, 67, resigned his position as prime minister in 2020, citing health issues. He was the country’s longest-serving prime minister. At the time of the shooting, he was giving a stump speech in support of Liberal Democratic candidates ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house.

The former PM has been a critic of China in recent years and has angered the government there. In November he declared that the U.S. and Japan should defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression: “A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance. People in Beijing, President Xi Jinping in particular, should never have a misunderstanding in recognising this,” he said. In an April op-ed, he blasted President Joe Biden for his ambiguous policy toward Taiwan, criticizing “America’s unwillingness to say explicitly that it will ‘defend Taiwan’ should it be attacked.”

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Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in the world and private gun ownership is rare.

This is a developing story.

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