Former Japanese Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe was shot and killed today while giving a speech in Nara City, Japan.
NHK reported that during a speech today on the streets of Nara City, Japan Shinzo Abe had collapsed suddenly to the ground, while witnesses had reported hearing the sound of gunshots.
NHK was the first outlet to report on the attack which happened at roughly 11:30am JPT.
Abe’s condition had been unknown and was transported to Nara University Medical Hospital via helicopter.
A 41-year old suspect has been arrested at the scene. Reports from NHK news state that the suspect possibly fired a homemade shotgun or other long-barreled rifle at near range. Video footage has begun to emerge from the scene of the incident showing a large puff of smoke from behind Abe as the firearm is discharged.
Shinzo Abe was struck twice by the second round fired from the suspect’s homemade shotgun, once in the back and once in the neck. When medical assistance first reached Abe, he was reported to have been responsive, but became unresponsive when CPR had begun to be performed. When he was loaded into an ambulance it was reported that his heart had stopped. When Shinzo Abe arrived at the hospital he was resuscitated but was pronounced dead at 5:03pm JPT.
Many Japanese politicians, both from the LDP and opposition, have publicly condemned this action as an attack on Japanese democracy.
The suspect has been identified as a former military veteran who served in the Maritime Armed Forces for three years until 2005. As reported by NHK, police authorities have stated that the suspect had made public statements about his dissatisfaction with Shinzo Abe and his intentions to kill him.
An emotional Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has made a public statement about the shooting. He condemned the shooting was an act of barbarism and a direct attack on Japan’s democracy. When asked about the effects this shooting would have on Japan’s elections, Kishida dismissed the question saying that he was more focused on the survival of his friend and ally rather than the election. Kishida also stated that Abe has been undergoing life-saving medical treatment and remains in critical condition.
During a press conference carried out by the medical staff at 6:00pm JPT, Dr. Kimihiko Yoshikawa and Professor Hideken Fukushima, the doctor in charge of the emergency medical care of the late Abe, the cause of death was due to severe blood loss. The Doctor stated that the gunshot had damaged large blood vessels in Shinzo Abe’s chest and heart, with exit wounds being found on his left shoulder.
At the same time as the press conference at Nara University Medical Center, the police involved in the investigation had found possible explosives found in the suspect’s home around 6:30pm. They are asking nearby residents to evacuate the area as they continue to carry out their investigation.
Prime Minister Kishida gave another press conference shortly after Shinzo Abe’s death had been announced, during which it was obvious that he was struggling to contain his emotions, “I had been praying that God would please spare his life, but my prayers were in vain, and I ended up hearing obituaries. I am truly sorry and have no words.”
Kishida also went on to say, “In the midst of the election that is the foundation of democracy, the despicable atrocities that took the life of former Prime Minister Abe were committed. It is absolutely unforgivable, and I condemn it once again in the strongest terms.” He also stated his intentions to continue on the political campaign trail tomorrow in light of the attack, “Free and fair elections, which are the foundation of democracy, must be absolutely upheld. With a firm determination to ‘never succumb to violence,’ I will proceed with my election campaign tomorrow as scheduled. Until the last moment of the election campaign, I would like to continue to appeal to the people of Japan directly with my own voice,”.
Many Japanese citizens are offering their prayers and flowers at the spot where Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been shot. Via NHK News, one man in his 30s said, “I heard that former Prime Minister Abe likes green tea, so I offered him tea. I would like to tell former Prime Minister Abe to sleep peacefully now. I hope that there will be politicians who can entrust future generations to them.”
Yumi Asada on Twitter: “Many people are offering flowers for former PM Shinzo Abe who was shot at this spot earlier today. Very tragic.
At 9:30pm JPT, the Japanese have reiterated that they have found possible explosives in the suspects apartment. The police have also given a short summary of known information about the suspect, a 41-year old unemployed man who lived in Nara City. The police also announced a 90 person task force has been created to carry out the investigation of the incident.
As of roughly 10:30pm, the evacuation order around the suspect’s apartment has been lifted by the police. What were thought to be explosives has possibly turned out to be more homemade firearms like the one used earlier today. Pictured below is one of several of the homemade firearms that the suspect had made and left behind.
[UPDATE] The police have ended the search of the suspect’s apartment. They have carried out ten cardboard boxes of evidence related to the incident.
We will continue to update as more information comes out.