“The former Prime Minister was shot at around 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) in Nara. A man suspected of being the shooter has been arrested. Mr. Abe’s condition is currently unknown,” the press said. the secretary general of the government, Hirokazu Matsuno. A few minutes later, the current Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, spoke of “a very serious condition”. The attack on Shinzo Abe is “absolutely unforgivable”, he said, adding “to pray for the survival” of his predecessor.

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The 67-year-old former chief executive was on stage at a campaign rally ahead of Sunday’s senatorial elections when gunshots were heard, national broadcaster NHK and the agency reported. release Kyodo. “He was giving a speech and a man came up from behind,” a young woman at the scene told NHK.

“The first shot sounded like a toy. It didn’t drop and there was a big bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and some smoke […] . After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him CPR,” she testified. Shinzo Abe collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) told Jiji news agency. Citing police sources, state broadcaster NHK said a man in his 40s was arrested for attempted murder and had a gun confiscated.

Contacted by AFP, neither the PLD nor the local police were able to confirm this information immediately. NHK and Kyodo media both reported that the ex-prime minister was taken to hospital and appeared to be in cardio-respiratory arrest – a term used in Japan indicating no signs of life, and usually preceding an official death certificate.

Shinzo Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He was in office in 2006 for a year, then again from 2012 to 2020, when he was forced to resign for health reasons.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel deplored the attack. “We are all saddened and shocked by the shooting attack on former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Abe-san was an outstanding leader of Japan and a staunch ally of the United States. The American government and people pray for the well-being of Abe-san, his family and the people of Japan,” Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. Many heads of state or government reacted and condemned this “despicable” attack, according to Boris Johnson. British Prime Minister said he was “appalled and saddened”; Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, “shocked and saddened”. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter that he was “deeply shocked by the attack on my dear friend Abe”.

Japan has one of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and the annual death toll from guns in the country of 125 million people is extremely low. Obtaining a gun license 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.