July 9, 2022, 11.14 AM

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.

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.

World Leaders Express Shock, Sadness

World leaders expressed shock and sadness after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed.

US President Joe Biden offered condolences to Abe’s family. “This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him,” he said in a statement.

Biden spoke about his personal connection with Abe.

“I had the privilege to work closely with Prime Minister Abe. As vice president, I visited him in Tokyo and welcomed him to Washington. He was a champion of the alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people,” Biden said.

“The longest-serving Japanese prime minister, his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific will endure.

“Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service. Even at the moment, he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy.”

Biden said he had ordered the US flag to be flown at half-staff to honor Abe.

A mourner prays and lays flowers at the site where former prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe was shot in the chest during a campaign speech on a street outside a train station in the city of Nara, just east of Osaka, at about 11:30 a.m. local time Friday, July 8, 2022. AP PHOTO/HIRO KOMAE A mourner prays and lays flowers at the site where former prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe was shot in the chest during a campaign speech on a street outside a train station in the city of Nara, just east of Osaka, at about 11:30 a.m. local time Friday, July 8, 2022.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement saying, “Prime Minister Abe was a global leader and unwavering ally and friend of the United States, whose vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific lifted our alliance cooperation to new heights.”

Former US President Barack Obama said in a statement, “Abe was devoted to both the country he served and the extraordinary alliance between the United States and Japan. I will always remember the work we did to strengthen our alliance, the moving experience of traveling to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor together, and the grace he and his wife, Akie Abe, showed to me and Michelle.”

Current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the “unforgivable act,” saying, “The free and fair election, which is the root of democracy, needs to be protected no matter what. We will not be defeated by violence.”

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also issued a statement Friday.

“The secretary-general recalls Shinzo Abe’s commitment to promoting peace and security, championing the Sustainable Development Goals, and advocating for universal health coverage,” said Farhan Haq.

“As the longest-serving prime minister, he was dedicated to reviving his country’s economy and serving the people of Japan.”

In Britain, Queen Elizabeth also tweeted her condolences.

“My family and I were deeply saddened to hear the news of the sudden and tragic death of the former prime minister, Shinzo Abe,” the queen said.

“I have fond memories of meeting Mr. Abe and his wife during their visit to the United Kingdom in 2016. His love for Japan and his desire to forge ever-closer bonds with the United Kingdom were clear.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “shocked and saddened beyond words.” Modi also said that India would observe one day of national mourning on Saturday to respect the former prime minister.

Many other world leaders reacted to the news, including leaders of Canada, Germany, Pakistan, Sweden, the Philippines, Australia, Spain, France, and Italy.

The International Olympic Committee praised Abe’s “vision, determination, and dependability,” which enabled the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics for one year because of the global spread of the coronavirus.

The IOC said it would have the Olympic flag flown at half-staff in the Olympic house in Lausanne, Switzerland, for three days.

Source: VOA

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Source VOA News

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