Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in very serious condition after being attacked with a gun
Eva Deschamps / July 8, 2022
Shots were fired Friday at former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at an election rally in the western city of Nara, the Japanese government confirmed, and he showed no signs of life according to local media.
The former Prime Minister was shot at around 11:30 am in Nara. A man suspected of being the shooter has been arrested. Mr. Abe's condition is currently unknown, government secretary general Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
Citing police sources, the public television station NHK said earlier that a man in his 40s had been arrested for attempted murder and that a firearm had been confiscated.
The 67-year-old former chief executive was delivering a speech at a campaign rally for Sunday's senatorial elections when gunshots were heard, the national broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo news agency reported.
He was giving a speech and a man came from behind, a young woman at the scene told NHK.
The first shot sounded like a toy. It didn't fall and there was a big 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 heart massage, she said.
Mr. Abe collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) told the Jiji news agency.
Neither the LDP nor the local police could immediately confirm this information when contacted by AFP.
NHK and Kyodo both reported that Mr. Abe was taken to hospital and appeared to be in cardiorespiratory arrest - a term used in Japan indicating the absence of signs of life, and usually preceding an official death certificate.
Several media outlets reported that he appeared to have been shot from behind, probably with a rifle.
Mr. Abe was the longest-serving Japanese prime minister. He was in office in 2006 for one year, then again from 2012 to 2020, when he was forced to resign for health reasons.
Japan has some of the strictest gun control legislation in the world, and the annual number of gun deaths in this country of 125 million people is extremely low.
Obtaining a gun permit is a long and complicated process, even for Japanese citizens, who must first obtain a recommendation from a shooting association and then undergo strict police checks.