TOKYO – Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister, was in critical condition after being shot Friday morning while giving a speech in western Japan, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Images on social media showed Mr. Abe, 67, collapsed and bled on the ground in the city of Nara, near Kyoto. The Japan Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Mr. Abe had sustained a gunshot wound to the right side of his neck and the left side of his chest.
Police said they had arrested a suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, on a charge of attempted murder. The suspect had used “gun-like equipment,” which was recovered at the scene, a police spokesman said.
Images shared on social media showed a man being accosted after the shooting near Yamatosaidaiji station. The man was a resident of Nara, according to NHK, the public broadcaster. The detailed motive for the shooting was not immediately made public.
Mister. Kishida, who had been on the campaign trail in Yamagata prefecture and returned to Tokyo after the shooting, told a news conference that the attack was a “heinous act”, adding: “It is barbaric and malicious, and cannot be tolerated.” . . ”
He added: “Currently, doctors are doing everything they can. Right now, I hope and pray that former Prime Minister Abe survives this.”
Seigo Yasuhara, an official at the Nara Fire Department command center, said that after the shooting, Mr. Abe had been in cardiopulmonary arrest and had been taken, unconscious and lifeless, by an ambulance to an evacuation helicopter. medical. He was then transported to Nara Medical University Hospital, the Nara Fire Department said.
Hirokazu Matsuno, chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Kishida, said a crisis management center had been set up in the prime minister’s office.
Mister. Abe was the country longest serving prime minister and served two terms, from 2006 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2020. He resigned in 2020 due to health problems.
The former prime minister was in Nara campaigning ahead of elections for the upper house of parliament scheduled for Sunday. Mister. Abe was giving a campaign speech on behalf of Kei Sato, 43, a current member of the Upper House who is running for re-election in Nara. He had been speaking for less than a minute when two large explosives were heard behind him at around 11:30 a.m.
Yoshio Ogita, 74, general secretary of the Nara prefectural Liberal Democrat chapter, was standing next to Mr. abe. He said he heard two loud sounds and saw a plume of white smoke rising into the sky.
Mister. Abe fell off a small 20-inch stand, where he had been placed so he could rise above the crowd.
“I didn’t know what happened,” Mr. Ogita said in a telephone interview on Friday afternoon. “I saw him collapse.”
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