Shinzo Abe – Japan‘s longest-serving former prime minister – has died after being shot in the neck and heart as he made a campaign speech in the south of the country earlier today. 

The 67-year-old, who served for a total of nine years over two terms, was gunned down in the city of Nara around 11.30am as he rallied support for the local candidate ahead of parliamentary elections on Sunday. His death was announced by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party six hours later, shortly after wife Akie arrived at his bedside.

Doctors said Abe was shot in the right side of his neck and torso, with wounds deep enough to reach his heart. He was ‘bleeding profusely’ when he arrived in hospital and was given ‘a lot of blood transfusions’ but could not be saved, medics said. His was pronounced dead shortly after 5pm local time.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41 and a navy veteran, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder while wielding what appeared to be a home-made shotgun. Police say he has since confessed, telling them he wanted to kill Abe because he was ‘dissatisfied’ with him. 

Witnesses said Abe was about to start speaking when Yamagami approached him from behind and fired two shots, the second of which felled him. Several members of Abe’s security detail tackled Yamagami while others gave the politician chest compressions, before he was taken to hospital via helicopter.

Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the shooting an attack on ‘the foundation of democracy’, describing it as ‘heinous’, ‘barbaric and malicious’, and ‘absolutely unforgivable’. ‘I would like to use the most extreme words available to condemn this act,’ he added.

The shooting is a deeply shocking end to the life of Japan’s best-known politician, taking place a country that prides itself on its low levels of violent crime and which has extremely tough gun laws. 

 Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister, has died after being shot in the neck and heart while giving a campaign speech in the city of Nara on Friday

Abe, 67, was about to speak in support of his party's local candidate when a gunman approached him from behind and fired two shots which lacerated his neck and heart

Abe, 67, was about to speak in support of his party’s local candidate when a gunman approached him from behind and fired two shots which lacerated his neck and heart

Abe's death was announced by the party six hours after the shooting, and shortly after wife Akie (pictured) arrived at the hospital where he was being treated

 Abe’s death was announced by the party six hours after the shooting, and shortly after wife Akie (pictured) arrived at the hospital where he was being treated

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a military veteran, was tackled by Abe's security detail and then arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder. Police say he has confessed wanting to kill Abe because he was 'dissatisfied' with him

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a military veteran, was tackled by Abe’s security detail and then arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder. Police say he has confessed wanting to kill Abe because he was ‘dissatisfied’ with him

Abe - who served in office from 2006 to 2007 and then 2012 to 2020 - was giving a speech on behalf of his Liberal Democratic Party in the city of Nara ahead of parliamentary elections before he was shot (pictured)

Abe – who served in office from 2006 to 2007 and then 2012 to 2020 – was giving a speech on behalf of his Liberal Democratic Party in the city of Nara ahead of parliamentary elections before he was shot (pictured)

Doctors speak to journalists at the hospital where Shinzo Abe was taken after being shot - revealing that he was 'bleeding profusely' from wounds to his neck and heart, and could not be saved

Doctors speak to journalists at the hospital where Shinzo Abe was taken after being shot – revealing that he was ‘bleeding profusely’ from wounds to his neck and heart, and could not be saved

World leaders respond to Shinzo Abe shooting 

UK 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he is said he is ‘Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe.’

US

‘This is a very, very sad moment,’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at the G20 meeting in Bali, saying the United States was ‘deeply saddened and deeply concerned’.

‘We don’t know his condition,’ he said. ‘Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the people of Japan.’

EU

European Council president Charles Michel said he was ‘shocked and saddened by (the) cowardly attack’ on Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe was ‘a true friend, fierce defender of multilateral order & democratic values’, Michel tweeted. 

‘EU stands with people of Japan and (Prime Minister) Fumio Kishida in these difficult times. Profound sympathies to his family.’

Australia

‘Shocking news from Japan that former PM Shinzo Abe has been shot,’ Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted.

‘Our thoughts are with his family and the people of Japan at this time.’

India

‘Deeply distressed by the attack on my dear friend Abe Shinzo,’ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and the people of Japan.’

Russia 

‘We pray for the health of the former prime minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe,’ the Russian embassy in Japan said in a post on Facebook.

‘We strongly condemn the barbaric attempt on his life.’

France

The French embassy in Japan expressed concern over the ‘hateful’ attack, saying its thoughts were with Abe and his loved ones.

‘The French Embassy has learned with emotion and dismay of the hateful attack on former prime minister Shinzo Abe in Nara,’ the mission said on Twitter.

Thailand 

Thailand’s ‘Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha is very shocked by what has happened to former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe,’ Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told reporters in Bangkok.

‘Prayut and Abe are friends and they have a relatively close relationship as they met several times.’

The Philippines

Enrique Manalo, the foreign affairs secretary of the Philippines, expressed ‘great shock and dismay’ at the attack.

‘I extend my deep sympathy and pray for his early recovery,’ he tweeted.

Abe’s towering legacy will stand as perhaps the most significant of Japan’s post-war leaders – a hawkish conservative and economic reformer who dragged the country out of decades of stagnant economic growth and made it a power player on the world stage.

Born into a political dynasty, Abe’s grandfather and great uncle had both served as prime minister before him and he was groomed for power from the start.

He first became premiere in 2006 at the age of 52 – the youngest ever to hold the job – but was mired in scandal and abruptly stepped down after just a year while suffering debilitating bowel condition, ulcerative colitis.

He then regained the premiership in 2012 and held the role for the next eight years – making him Japan’s longest-serving prime minister – before he was forced to step down again in 2020 when the bowel condition reemerged.

Abe is best-known for his ‘Abenomics’ agenda to revive Japan’s sluggish economy via a programme of vast government spending, massive monetary easing, and cutting red tape.

But he also pushed for reforms of Japan’s pacifist post-war constitution to allow the country to develop a fully-fledged military, and deepened ties with western allies – particularly with the US. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson led tribute to Abe as news of his death spread, saying: ‘His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many.

‘My thoughts are with his family, friends, and the Japanese people. The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.’ 

The attack came before noon in the country’s western region of Nara where Abe had been delivering a stump speech with security present, but spectators able to approach him easily.

Footage broadcast by NHK showed him standing on a stage when a man dressed in a grey shirt and brown trousers begins approaching from behind, before drawing something from a bag and firing.

At least two shots appear to be fired, each producing a cloud of smoke.

As spectators and reporters ducked, a man was shown being tackled to the ground by security. He was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, reports said.

Local media identified the man as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, citing police sources, with several media outlets describing him as a former member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, the country’s navy.

He was wielding a weapon described by local media as a ‘handmade gun’, and NHK said he told police after his arrest that he ‘targeted Abe with the intention of killing him’.

Witnesses at the scene described shock as the political event turned into chaos.

‘The first shot sounded like a toy bazooka,’ a woman told NHK.

‘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.’

Abe was bleeding from the neck, witnesses said and photographs showed. He was reportedly initially responsive but subsequently lost consciousness.

Officials from the local chapter of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party said there had been no threats before the incident and that his speech had been announced publicly.

Kishida said ‘no decision’ had been made on the election, though several parties announced their senior members would halt campaigning in the wake of the attack.

The attack prompted international shock.

Yamagami approached Abe from behind and then fired two shots, according to witnesses, who said the former Prime Minister collapsed after the second shot

Yamagami approached Abe from behind and then fired two shots, according to witnesses, who said the former Prime Minister collapsed after the second shot

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a veteran of Japan's armed forces, was tackled by security (pictured) and then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a veteran of Japan’s armed forces, was tackled by security (pictured) and then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder  

Police tackle the suspect who is believed to shoot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Police tackle the suspect who is believed to shoot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Security police tackle to arrest a suspect who is believed to shoot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Security police tackle to arrest a suspect who is believed to shoot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The weapon used to shoot Abe appears to be a homemade double-barrelled shotgun, made by strapping two pieces of pipe to a piece of wooden board

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a veteran of Japan's armed forces, was tackled by security (pictured) and then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder

The weapon used to shoot Abe appears to be a homemade double-barrelled shotgun, made by strapping two pieces of pipe to a piece of wooden board

‘This is a very, very sad moment,’ US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at a G20 meeting in Bali, saying the United States was ‘deeply saddened and deeply concerned’.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha was ‘very shocked’ at Abe’s shooting, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was ‘deeply distressed’ by the news.

– ‘Profoundly sad and shocking’ –

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020, when he was forced to step down due to the debilitating bowel condition ulcerative colitis.

He was a hawkish conservative who pushed for the revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to recognise the country’s military and has stayed a prominent political figure even after his resignation.

Japan has some of the world’s toughest gun-control laws, and annual deaths from firearms in the country of 125 million people are regularly in single figures.

Getting a gun licence is a long and complicated process for Japanese citizens, who must first get a recommendation from a shooting association and then undergo strict police checks.

Japan has seen ‘nothing like this for well over 50 to 60 years’, Corey Wallace, an assistant professor at Kanagawa University who focuses on Japanese politics, told AFP.

He said the last similar incident was likely the 1960 assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, the leader of the Japan Socialist Party, who was stabbed by a right-wing youth.

‘But two days before an election, of a (man) who is so prominent… it’s really profoundly sad and shocking.’

He noted, too, that Japanese politicians and voters are used to a personal and close-up style of campaigning.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020, when he was forced to step down due to the debilitating bowel condition ulcerative colitis.

He stepped down as prime minister in 2020 because he said a chronic health problem has resurfaced.

Abe has had ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and has said the condition was controlled with treatment.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a stretcher to a helicopter after being shot in front of Yamatosaidaiji Station

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a stretcher to a helicopter after being shot in front of Yamatosaidaiji Station

Police officers collect forensic evidence from the scene where Abe was shot on Friday while giving a campaign speech

Police officers collect forensic evidence from the scene where Abe was shot on Friday while giving a campaign speech

Fumio Kishida, the current Japanese Prime Minister, holds back his emotions while giving an update on Abe's condition - condemning the attack as 'heinous', 'barbaric', and 'absolutely unforgivable'

Fumio Kishida, the current Japanese Prime Minister, holds back his emotions while giving an update on Abe’s condition – condemning the attack as ‘heinous’, ‘barbaric’, and ‘absolutely unforgivable’

He told reporters at the time that it was ‘gut wrenching’ to leave many of his goals unfinished. He spoke of his failure to resolve the issue of Japanese abducted years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia and a revision of Japan´s war-renouncing constitution.

That last goal was a big reason he was such a divisive figure.

His ultra-nationalism riled the Koreas and China, and his push to normalize Japan’s defense posture angered many Japanese. Abe failed to achieve his cherished goal of formally rewriting the U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution because of poor public support.

Supporters of Abe said that his legacy was a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship that was meant to bolster Japan´s defense capability. But Abe made enemies too by forcing his defense goals and other contentious issues through parliament, despite strong public opposition.

Abe is a political blue blood who was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a ‘normal’ and ‘beautiful’ nation with a stronger military and bigger role in international affairs.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel expressed sadness and shock at the shooting. ‘Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and unwavering ally of the U.S. The U.S. Government and American people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, & people of Japan,’ he said on Twitter.

This aerial photo shows the scene of gunshots in Nara, western Japan Friday, July 8, 2022. Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and is reportedly in heart failure

This aerial photo shows the scene of gunshots in Nara, western Japan Friday, July 8, 2022. Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and is reportedly in heart failure 

Earlier in the day, Abe was  in good spirits as he  interacted with supporters before his speech ahead of the House of Councillors election on July 10

Earlier in the day, Abe was  in good spirits as he  interacted with supporters before his speech ahead of the House of Councillors election on July 10

Shinzo Abe: Japan’s longest-serving prime minister 

Shinzo Abe smashed records as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, championing ambitious economic reform and forging key diplomatic relationships while weathering scandals.

Nearly two years after poor health forced him to leave office, the 67-year-old is feared dead after being shot during a campaign event on Friday.

Abe was a sprightly 52 when he first became prime minister in 2006, the youngest person ever to occupy the job.

He was seen as a symbol of change and youth, but also brought the pedigree of a third-generation politician groomed from birth by an elite, conservative family.

Abe’s first term was turbulent, plagued by scandals and discord, and capped by an abrupt resignation.

After initially suggesting he was stepping down for political reasons, he acknowledged he was suffering an ailment later diagnosed as ulcerative colitis.

– They called it ‘Abenomics’ –

The debilitating bowel condition necessitated months of treatment but was, Abe said, eventually overcome with the help of new medication.

He ran again, and Japan’s revolving prime ministerial door brought him back to office in 2012.

It ended a turbulent period in which prime ministers changed sometimes at the rate of one a year.

With Japan still staggering from the effects of the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima — and a brief opposition government lashed for flip-flopping and incompetence — Abe offered a seemingly safe pair of hands.

And he had a plan: Abenomics.

The scheme to revive Japan’s economy — the world’s third-biggest, but more than two decades into stagnation — involved vast government spending, massive monetary easing, and cutting red tape.

Abe also sought to boost the country’s flagging birth rate by making workplaces more friendly to parents, particularly mothers.

He pushed through controversial consumption tax hikes to help finance nurseries and plug gaps in Japan’s overstretched social security system.

While there was some progress with reform, the economy’s bigger structural problems remained.

Deflation proved stubborn and the economy was in recession even before the coronavirus struck in 2020.

Abe’s star waned further during the pandemic, with his approach criticised as confused and slow, driving his approval ratings down to some of the lowest of his tenure.

– Political storms –

On the international stage, Abe took a hard line on North Korea, but sought a peacemaker role between the United States and Iran.

He prioritised a close personal relationship with Donald Trump in a bid to protect Japan’s key alliance from the then-US president’s ‘America First’ mantra, and tried to mend ties with Russia and China.

But the results were mixed: Trump remained eager to force Japan to pay more for US troops stationed in the country, a deal with Russia on disputed northern islands stayed elusive, and a plan to invite Xi Jinping for a state visit fell by the wayside.

Abe also pursued a hard line with South Korea over unresolved wartime disputes and continued to float plans to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution.

Throughout his tenure, he weathered political storms including cronyism allegations that dented approval ratings but did little to affect his power, in part thanks to the weakness of the opposition.

Abe had been due to stay on until late 2021, giving him an opportunity to see out one final event in his historic tenure — the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.

But in a shock announcement, he stepped down in August 2020, with a recurrence of ulcerative colitis ending his second term too.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10994501/Shinzo-Abe-dead-Japans-former-prime-minister-dies-shot.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

Previous articleArticle in The Mail on Sunday about Prince Harry’s Home Office claim was defamatory, High Court rules | UK news
Next articleFTSE 100: Markets hold on with big oil bets