Japan’s former PM Shinzo Abe shot during Nara speech, feared dead

Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is showing no vital signs after an apparent attack at a campaign event, according to local media.

Former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe is remarkably still alive in a critical condition after being shot in the chest and the neck by an attacker at a campaign event today.

Speaking at an emergency news conference Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says said authorities are “taking appropriate measures to handle the situation”, noting he was still “trying to comprehend this tough situation”.

“This is not a forgivable act,” Kishida said.

He said Abe is currently undergoing emergency surgery by doctors fighting to save his life.

“I pray that former prime minister Abe will survive,” Kishida said. “It is a barbaric act during election campaigning, which is the foundation of democracy, and it is absolutely unforgivable. I condemn this act in the strongest terms.”

According to local media, Abe collapsed while making a speech in Japan’s Nara prefecture.

Abe was standing on a podium at the side of the road before the alleged attack happened, according to footage from the event.

NHK reported Abe was shot from behind, citing police.

Local media reported that Liberal Democratic Party sources said he was bleeding from the neck at the time he collapsed, with an NHK reporter claiming there were “two consecutive gun shots” heard at the scene, Reuters reports.

Police arrested 41-year-old Yamagami Tetsuya in Nara City for allegedly attempting murder and say a gun was seized at the site, NHK reported.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told media in an emergency news briefing Abe was shot at 11.30am and one man had been arrested, but Abe’s condition was unknown.

“At the prime minister’s office we have set a crisis management office. Prime Minister Kishida will be returning to the office immediately,” he said, according to a translation by the ABC.

“Cabinet members nationwide campaigning will be returning to Tokyo. Such violence cannot be permitted. We oppose it strongly. We’ll take every measure possible.”

In the past few weeks, Abe had been campaigning on behalf of the Liberal Democratic Party ahead of the House of Councillors election on July 10.

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.

Malcolm Turnbull, who was Australian prime minister from 2015 to 2018, said he was “horrified” by the news.

“Abe Shinzo is one of the great leaders of our times. Right now we must hope and pray that he pulls through,” he wrote on Twitter.

Scott Morrison, who was Australian prime minister from 2018 until May this year, said he was “distressed” to hear the reports of an attack on Abe.

“PM Abe is a great and wise friend of Australia and one of the most important global leaders of the post war era,” he wrote on Facebook. “Our prayers are with him, his wife Akie and the people of Japan at this very difficult time.”

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 even for Japanese citizens, who must first get a recommendation from a shooting association and then undergo strict police checks.

More to come.

Originally published as Doctors ‘fighting to save’ former Japan leader Shinzo Abe after shooting

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