Japan’s former right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot in the street during an election campaign speech. As the Japanese television station NHK reported on Friday, the 67-year-old is said to be in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest. He was taken to a hospital. He is said to have been conscious at first.
TV footage showed Abe collapsed on the street in the ancient imperial city of Nara. He was on the street during his speech in the House of Lords this Sunday. According to media reports, he was suddenly shot twice from behind.
The perpetrator was arrested at the scene by the police for attempted murder, it said. Abe grabbed his chest as he collapsed, his shirt was smeared with blood.
The Japanese government is in crisis mode after the assassination attempt. Government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday that the condition of the 67-year-old was still being confirmed. There are fears that Abe might not survive the attack.
His successor, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, immediately broke off his election campaign in the north and returned to Tokyo. His government set up a crisis team. The attack happened two days before Sunday’s upper house elections. The perpetrator was arrested at the scene for attempted murder. Japan is considered one of the safest countries and has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.
The US ambassador to Japan was shocked by the attack. “We are all sad and shocked” that the former Prime Minister was shot, wrote US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel in a statement. “Abe-san” was a “outstanding leader of Japan and a staunch ally of the United States”. “The US government and people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family and the people of Japan,” Emanuel wrote.