Japan ex-leader Shinzo Abe apparently shot

Firefighters say Abe, 67, was not breathing and his heart stopped when he was flown to a hospital.

TOKYO, Japan – Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead during a campaign speech on Friday in western Japan and flown to a hospital, but he wasn’t breathing and his heart had stopped, officials said.

Makoto Morimoto, an officer with the local fire department, said Abe went into cardiac and pulmonary arrest after being shot and was taken to a prefectural hospital.

Chief of Cabinet Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that police arrested a suspected male assailant at the scene. “A barbaric act like this is absolutely unforgivable, for whatever reason, and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” ​​Matsuno said.

Public broadcaster NHK aired footage showing Abe collapsing in the street and several security guards running towards him. He was reportedly shot dead minutes after he began speaking outside a train station in western Nara.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who belongs to the same political party as Abe, is en route to Tokyo by helicopter from his own campaign destination of Yamagata in northern Japan. Matsuno said all cabinet ministers will return to Tokyo from their campaign trips.

In another footage, campaign officials surrounded him to treat the popular former leader, who still has influence in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and leads Seiwakai, its largest faction. Elections to the Japanese upper house, the less powerful chamber of the Japanese parliament, will take place on Sunday.

Abe was giving a speech when people heard gunshots. He was clutching his chest as he collapsed, his shirt covered in blood, but was able to speak before falling unconscious.

The attack came as a shock in a country that is one of the safest in the world and has some of the strictest gun control laws.

Abe resigned in 2020 because he said a chronic health issue had resurfaced. Abe has had ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and said treatment has brought the condition under control.

He told reporters at the time that leaving many of his goals unfinished was “heartbreaking.” He spoke of his failure to resolve the problem of the Japanese kidnapped by North Korea years ago, a territorial dispute with Russia and an overhaul of Japan’s war-refusing constitution.

That last goal was a big reason why he was such a divisive figure.

His ultra-nationalism angered Korea and China, and his desire to normalize Japan’s defensive posture angered many Japanese. Abe was unable to achieve his lofty goal of formally rewriting the US-drafted pacifist constitution due to poor public support.

Supporters of Abe said his legacy is a stronger US-Japan relationship that should strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities. But Abe also made enemies by pushing his defense goals and other contentious issues through Parliament despite strong public opposition.

Abe is a blue-blooded political figure groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation, with a stronger military and a bigger role in international affairs. Japan ex-leader Shinzo Abe apparently shot

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