Japan’s former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has died in hospital after being shot twice at a local political campaign.
The assassination took place whilst he was giving a speech in Nara for a candidate running for Japan’s upper house.
It had earlier been confirmed that the former Prime Minister had received a bullet to the right of his neck and also suffered under skin bleeding under the left of his chest.
Despite being responsive within the first 5 minutes of the attack, his condition worsened and required a blood transfusion in the hospital according to local media.
A 41-year-old suspect has been taken into custody. Eyewitnesses said they saw a man with a large gun shoot Mr Abe from behind.
The suspect has been identified as Nara resident Tetsuya Yamagami. It is believed he is a former member of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, Japan’s equivalent of a navy.
There is still confusion as to how the assassination took place. Japan is a country with historically low gun violence and political violence and Mr Abe had his team of security with him.
According to photos taken of the suspect, the gun was reportedly an improvised double-barrelled shotgun. The suspect was somehow able to get within a few metres of Shinzo Abe without a problem.
Current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a press conference condemning the act, calling it ‘barbaric and malicious’.
China’s Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian has also spoken out stating that the unexpected incident should not be associated with Sino-Japanese relations. Due to Mr Abe’s fractious military attitude, relations were tense between the two countries when he was in power.
The 67-year-old had been Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister. He first took the role in 2006 for a year, then became Prime Minister again between 2012 and 2020.
He was known for his economic policy (referred to as Abenomics) and aggressive stance on defence and foreign policy.
During his time in power, he also oversaw Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku.
Even after Mr Abe stepped down due to a relapse of ulcerative colitis, he was seen across Japan as an influential figure, especially in the world of domestic politics.
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