former prime minister Shinzo Abemodern Japan’s longest-serving leader, was shot dead Friday while campaigning for a parliamentary election, shocking a country where guns are tightly controlled and political violence is almost unthinkable.
Abe, 67, was pronounced dead about five hours after the shooting in Nara city. Police detained a 41-year-old man and said the gun was homemade.
“I was speechless upon hearing the news of Abe’s death,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a protégé of Abe.
Earlier, while Abe was still in the hospital, where doctors were trying to revive him, Kishida was struggling to keep his emotions in check. “This attack is an act of brutality that has occurred during elections – the bedrock of our democracy – and is absolutely inexcusable,” he said.
Abe was making a campaign speech outside a train station when two shots rang out. He then saw security officers approaching a man in a gray T-shirt and beige pants.
“There was a loud bang and then smoke,” businessman Makoto Ichikawa, who was at the scene, told Reuters. “At the first shot, no one knew what was going on. However, after the second shot, he was accosted by what looked like special policemen.”
The Kyodo news service published a photo of Abe lying on his back in the street next to a railing, with blood on his white shirt. People were crowding around him, and one person was giving him a heart massage.
Abe was taken to the hospital with cardiopulmonary arrest and no vital signs. He was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time (08:03 GMT), bleeding from deep wounds to his heart and right side of his neck.
He had received more than 100 units of blood in transfusions over four hours, Hidetada Fukushima, the professor in charge of emergency medicine at Nara Medical University Hospital, said at a televised news conference.
Nara police said the assailant, identified in the media as Tetsuya Yamagami, was a Nara resident who had worked in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces for three years.
However, he now seemed to be unemployed. Police said he was investigating whether he had acted alone.
The suspect said he had a grudge against a “specific organization” and that he believed Abe was part of it, and that his grudge had nothing to do with politics, police said, adding that it was unclear if the unnamed organization existed. Really.
Explosion then smoke
Citizens laid flowers near the spot where Abe fell. TV Asahi reported that the former official’s body would be transferred to his home in Tokyo on Saturday.
It is the first assassination of a current or former Japanese leader since the 1936 coup attempt, when several figures were killed, including two former prime ministers.
Post-war Japan prides itself on its orderly and open democracy.
High-level politicians are accompanied by armed security agents. However, they often approach the public, especially during political campaigns, when they make roadside speeches and shake hands with passers-by.
In 2007, the mayor of Nagasaki was shot dead by a yakuza gangster. The head of Japan’s Socialist Party was assassinated during a speech in 1960 by a right-wing youth with a short samurai sword.
Other prominent politicians have been attacked. However, they have not been injured.
Abe was prime minister for two terms, leaving office in 2020 citing health problems. However, he remained a dominant presence in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), controlling one of its main factions.
“I am shocked, outraged and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, has been shot dead while campaigning,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement. release.
“It is a tragedy for Japan and for everyone who knew him (…) He was a defender of the alliance between our nations and friendship between our peoples”.
The United States is Japan’s most important ally.
Following the news of Abe’s death, similar messages poured in from around the world, including from neighboring Taiwan, China and Russia, as well as from across Asia, Europe and the United States.
The yen rose and Japan’s Nikkei fell on news of the shooting, fueled in part by an instinctive flight to safe assets.