Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died after someone shot him twice during a speech in Nara, located in western Japan.
The assassination took place two days before the national election.
Japan’s longest-serving leader was shot by a 41-year-old man who approached him from behind at around 11:30 a.m. as he was speaking in front of Kintetsu Railway’s Yamato-Saidaiji Station, police said, adding he collapsed on the ground after two shots were heard. He was rushed to a hospital with blood seen on his shirt.
A doctor with the Nara Medical University Hospital later said at a press conference that Abe was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. and the wound was deep enough to reach his heart, adding the cause of death is believed to be blood loss.
The police arrested Nara resident Tetsuya Yamagami at the scene:
The suspect was formerly a member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, apparently for about three years through 2005, according to government sources.
“It’s not a grudge against the political beliefs of former Prime Minister Abe,” the Nara prefectural police quoted Yamagami, whose recent occupation remains unknown, as saying. His home was later searched by the police, who found an item that could be an explosive, they said.
Yagmagami supposedly told authorities “that he was dissatisfied with former Prime Minister Abe and wanted to kill him.”
Abe was campaigning for the Liberal Demoratic Party, the country’s ruling party. He went to Nara “to support a candidate running in Sunday’s House of Councillors election.”
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the attack:
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, after returning to his office in Tokyo by helicopter from Yamagata Prefecture where he was campaigning, condemned the shooting of the former leader “in the strongest possible terms.”
“The barbaric act that took the life of former Prime Minister Abe during (campaigning for) an election that serves as the foundation of democracy should never be tolerated,” he said.
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