Shinzo Abe – Japan’s longest-serving prime minister – has died after being shot twice as he made a campaign speech in the south of the country earlier today, local media has said.
The 67-year-old, who served for a total of nine years over two terms, was gunned down in the city of Nara around 11.30am as he rallied support for the local candidate ahead of parliamentary elections on Sunday. His death was reported by public broadcaster NHK around six hours later, shortly after wife Akie arrived at his bedside.
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.
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.
Credit: Daily mail