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Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Longest-serving PM, Assassinated

July 9, 2022, 11.14 AM - Former prime minister Shinzo Abe, one of Japan’s most prominent post-war political figures, has died after being shot in the chest during a campaign speech Friday, July 8, medical officials said.

The 67-year-old Abe died at a hospital in Nara Prefecture, where he had been receiving treatment after being shot with what appeared to be a handmade gun.

Abe had been speaking at a small campaign event on a street outside a train station in the city of Nara, just east of Osaka, at about 11:30 a.m. local time when a man rushed at him and fired two shots.

Videos posted on social media appeared to show bystanders scrambling to help, amid a cloud of white smoke, as Abe lay on the ground motionless.

Hospital officials said Abe did not show vital signs after being airlifted to the hospital. Doctors attempted to stop the bleeding and conduct blood transfusions, but Abe was declared dead at 5:03 p.m. They said one of the shots penetrated Abe’s heart and the other hit his neck.

The alleged shooter, a 41-year-old man from Nara, has been detained. It said the man, who state broadcaster NHK identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, served three years in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. The man told police that he was dissatisfied with Abe and wanted to kill him, NHK added.

Also readFormer Japan PM Abe Shot, Feared Dead

Video of the shooting aftermath appeared to show a box-like weapon with two thick barrels lying on the street after the suspect was detained. Media reports said the weapon appeared to be homemade. Japan has very tough gun laws that make it almost impossible to buy a gun.

Abe’s death will leave a void in Japanese politics. Both during and after his two terms in office, Abe had a profound impact on the direction of the country. He was a major proponent of countering China’s growing strength and boosting his country’s military budget.

Abe had been speaking at a small campaign event ahead of Japan’s upper house election, which will be held Sunday. His public schedule had been published a day earlier.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the “sneaky barbaric” attack, saying it occurred during elections that form the very heart of Japan’s democracy. He declined to comment on the political implications of the shooting. Japanese officials have said the election will continue.

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He stepped down in August 2020, citing ill health, but had remained active in politics. He remained an influential voice in the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Even before the shooting, Abe was expected to have a major impact on Sunday’s election, the outcome of which could be crucial not only for Japan’s economy but also for its future defense posture.

Also readIndonesian President Jokowi Sends Get-Well Wish to Japanese PM Abe

Abe had been one of the most prominent voices calling for Japan to revise its pacifist constitution, which was drafted by US-led Allied forces occupying the country after World War II.

Source VOA News

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