KOMPAS.com - 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.
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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.