Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dies after being shot
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died in hospital Friday, according to local media, a few hours after being shot and wounded in the middle of an election rally, an attack that aroused great emotion in Japan and abroad. “According to a senior official of the PLD, (the Liberal Democratic Party in power in Japan, editor’s note), former Prime Minister Abe died in the hospital” of Kashihara in the department of Nara where he had been transferred after the attack, state broadcaster NHK said. He was 67 years old.
“A barbaric act”
“It’s a barbaric act in the middle of an election campaign, which is the basis of democracy, and it’s absolutely unforgivable”, denounced Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a press conference at the start of the afternoon. , before Shinzo Abe’s death was confirmed.
Visibly very moved, Mr. Kishida said he “prayed” for the survival of Mr. Abe, his former political mentor, of whom he had been Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2017.
According to state broadcaster NHK, Mr Abe had been taken to hospital in “cardio-respiratory arrest” – a term used in Japan indicating the absence of any signs of life, and usually preceding an official death certificate. The former chief executive was giving a late morning speech near a train station in Nara, western Japan, during a campaign rally ahead of Sunday’s senatorial elections, when gunshots fire were heard, national broadcaster NHK and Kyodo news agency said.
A suspect arrested
A man in his 40s has been disarmed and arrested for attempted murder, according to NHK, citing police sources. According to several local media, the suspect is a 41-year-old Japanese man who in the past belonged to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Japanese Navy.
NHK footage showed Japanese police wearing protective gear entering a building identified by the broadcaster as the suspect’s home on Friday afternoon. In NHK footage showing the moment of the attack, Mr Abe is seen standing on a podium, then a loud bang is heard and smoke billows. While the spectators surprised by the detonation bend down, several people tackle another one to the ground.
An attack committed during a speech
Mr Abe “was giving a speech and a man came up from behind”, a young woman who was at the scene told NHK. “The first shot sounded like a toy. It didn’t drop and there was a big bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and smoke,” he said. -she adds.
“After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him a heart massage,” she testified. Mr Abe collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source from the ruling nationalist right-wing Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) told the Jiji news agency.
Local PLD officials said they had received no threat before the attack and that Mr. Abe’s speech had been announced publicly.
Japan’s longest-serving prime minister
Former leader of the PLD, Mr. Abe was the Japanese Prime Minister to have remained in power the longest. He had been in office in 2006-2007, then again from 2012 to 2020. He had been forced to resign for health reasons but remained very influential within the PLD, of which he controlled the main faction in Parliament.
Reactions poured in from around the world after the attack
“It’s a very, very sad moment,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday, adding that the United States was “deeply sad and deeply concerned” about the attack. “Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the Japanese people,” he added.
“Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and a staunch ally of the United States. The American government and people pray for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, and the people of Japan,” the statement said. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel. European Council President Charles Michel said he was “shocked and saddened” by the “cowardly” attack on Mr Abe, whom he described as a “true friend, fierce defender of the multilateral order and democratic values “.
Japan hasn’t seen anything like it “for more than 50 to 60 years,” Corey Wallace, a lecturer at Kanagawa University and a specialist in Japanese politics, told AFP. According to him, the last similar incident in Japan was the assassination in 1960 of Inejiro Asanuma, the leader of the Japanese Socialist Party, stabbed by a student close to the extreme right.
“But two days before an election (and a man) so important (…) it is deeply sad and shocking”, he added.
One of the strictest gun laws
Japan has one of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and the annual death toll from guns in the country of 125 million people is extremely low.
Obtaining a gun license is a long and complicated process, even for Japanese citizens, who must first obtain a recommendation from a shooting association and then undergo strict police checks.
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