Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, ‘has died’ after being shot twice by a navy veteran during a campaign speech, local TV reports.
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, ‘was shot twice’ earlier today as he delivered a speech in the country’s south, according to local media.
Ahead of the Sunday parliamentary elections, the 67-year-old, who held office for a total of nine years over two terms, was assassinated in the city of Nara at approximately 11.30 a.m. as he organized support for the local candidate. About six hours later, just as wife Akie had arrived at his bedside, state television NHK confirmed his passing.
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.
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Prime Minister 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 development in the life of Japan’s best-known politician, taking place a country that prides itself on its low levels of violent crime and has extremely tough gun laws.