Japan’s former PM Abe has died after being shot – media

Local media has reported Shinzo Abe’s death at the hands of a gunman, now in custody

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pronounced dead at the age of 67 after he was shot during a public address, NHK reported citing the ruling Japanese Liberal Democratic Party. The death was also confirmed by a party source, who spoke to the Kyodo news agency.

Abe was taken to hospital in grave condition after a gunman injured him during a public appearance in the city of Nara in western Japan. He was campaigning as a candidate in an upcoming parliamentary election.

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Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno was among the first to corroborate details of the attack on Friday, calling it “unforgivable” while noting that a suspect had been arrested. NHK news identified the man as Yamagami Tetsuya, who is said to be in his 40s. He was arrested for attempted murder, and a weapon was reportedly retrieved from the scene.

Witnesses said the gunman fired on Abe from behind and reported hearing two loud bangs before seeing the former leader collapse on stage. 

Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Abe resigned in 2020 due to health issues but remained an influential political figure, and was speaking on behalf of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party when he was shot.

The attack was condemned by public figures in Japan and internationally. Incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida branded it a “barbaric act” that has no place in a modern society. Russia compared it to an act of terrorism and praised Abe for the role he’d played in improving relations with Moscow during his time in office.

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