8 Jul, 2022 03:32
Japan's ex-PM shot during public speech
The former leader appeared to be unresponsive after an apparent assasination attempt
Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, falls on the ground in Nara, western Japan Friday, July 8, 2022 © Kyodo News via AP
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been rushed to hospital after apparently being shot while giving a speech, local media reports said, noting that bystanders heard two loud bangs before Abe collapsed.
Abe, 67, fell to the ground during his address in the city of Nara on Friday morning and was seen bleeding.
"Former prime minister, Abe was shot at around 11.30 am in Nara. One man, believed to be the shooter, has been taken into custody. The condition of former prime minister, Abe is currently unknown," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters, adding that the attack was "unforgivable."
“[Shinzo Abe] was giving a speech and a man came from behind,” one witness told NHK, adding that “the first shot sounded like a toy. He didn't fall and there was a large bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and smoke.”
Local media reported that Abe was in a state of “cardiopulmonary arrest” and showed no vital signs following the shooting, citing local fire and hospital officials. The term is often used in Japan to indicate a person has no vital signs but has not yet been certified dead by a coroner.
Footage circulating online purported to show both the shooting and its aftermath, with Abe seen delivering his speech before a loud blast erupted behind him accompanied by a cloud of smoke.
Paramedics were also seen working on Abe before he was airlifted to a hospital for treatment, while what appears to be a homemade firearm was also spotted in a photo from the scene.
The suspected shooter, a man in his 40s, has been arrested for attempted homicide, and is being questioned by police.
Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Abe was campaigning for an upcoming parliamentary election this weekend, speaking in favor of the ruling Liberal Democratic party.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has canceled his campaign stops and will soon return to Tokyo, officials said.