Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assassinated during campaign speech
( Fox )
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been assassinated in a shooting while giving a speech on a street in Nara in western Japan Friday morning, hospital officials confirmed hours later.
Earlier Friday, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gave an emotional press conference where he said Abe, 67, was in "severe condition" and he hopes he will survive. Abe was taken from the scene of the shooting unconscious and in cardiac arrest with no vital signs, Japanese media outlets Kyodo News and NHK reported.
Kishida, who belongs to the same political party as Abe, returned to Tokyo from a campaign trip after the shooting. Kishida spoke to reporters at the prime minister’s office, saying Abe was receiving the utmost medical treatment. "I’m praying for former prime minister Abe’s survival from the bottom of my heart," he said.
Kishida called the attack "dastardly and barbaric" and that the crime during the election campaign, which is the foundation of democracy, is absolutely unforgivable.
After Abe's death was confirmed, tributes began to pour in from world leaders.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, called him a "wonderful person, great democrat and champion of the multilateral world," saying, "This brutal and cowardly murder of @AbeShinzo shocks the whole world."
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, "His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Abe one of his "dearest friends."
"He was a towering global statesman, an outstanding leader, and a remarkable administrator. He dedicated his life to make Japan and the world a better place."
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE
Video posted to social media appeared to capture the moment Abe was shot. He is seen speaking to a crowd when suddenly a loud bang is heard and a cloud of smoke erupts. People in the crowd are heard gasping in shock. A second blast is heard just as the camera pans away.
It appears Abe was shot twice from behind. At the time, he was making a campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament's upper house.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a statement before Abe's death was confirmed: "We are all saddened and shocked by the shooting of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. 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."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Bali, Indonesia for a G20 meeting, said he was "deeply saddened about the shooting" and "Our thoughts, prayers are with him, his family, and people of Japan. Very sad moment."
Former President Donald Trump reacted to Abe's shooting on his social media platform Truth Social, writing: "Absolutely devastating news that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, a truly great man and leader, has been shot, and is in very serious condition. He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much. We are all praying for Shinzo and his beautiful family!"
Former Vice President Mike Pence took to Twitter early Friday morning to say he and his wife Karen are "deeply troubled to learn of the shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe."
Pence continued, "Abe-san was a remarkable leader of Japan and an unshakeable ally of the U.S. We join millions praying for this truly good man and his family. God bless Shinzo Abe." He shared the tweet along with a picture of himself with Abe.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have yet to release any statements.
A male suspect was arrested at the scene and an apparent homemade gun was confiscated. He was identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, Nara prefectural police confirmed. Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan.
Yamagami was tackled by security after the shooting.
Several of the country's Ministry of Defense officials said Yamagami had been working for the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years until around 2005. He reportedly told police that he was dissatisfied with former Prime Minister Abe and wanted to kill him.
Abe is Japan's longest-serving prime minister. He served from 2006 to 2007 and again in 2012 until he resigned in 2020 after his ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition, resurfaced, calling his decision at the time "gut-wrenching."
During his term, he focused on the economy, rebuilding Japan's military and being a larger player in international affairs.