Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe shot on campaign trail

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe shot on campaign trail

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving former prime minister, has been shot during a stump speech in the western city of Nara.

Abe collapsed at about 11:30am and was taken to hospital by helicopter after two shots hit his neck and left collarbone, according to the local fire department. He was unconscious and in cardiac arrest.

The shooting of one of Japan’s most significant leaders will shock a society that has suffered little political violence in half a century.

“Such an act of brutality is unforgivable and we resolutely condemn it,” said Hirokazu Matsuno, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary. Abe’s condition was unknown, Matsuno said.

Police arrested a 41-year-old male suspect at the scene of the shooting, according to local media reports. The assailant used a shotgun, the reports added.

Mobile phone videos taken by bystanders showed Abe giving a speech near Yamato-Saidaiji station, in the suburbs of Nara. A puff of white smoke was visible behind him.

Two students who witnessed the shooting told public broadcaster NHK that they heard a loud bang when Abe was shot the first time.

“He didn’t collapse, we just heard a very loud bang, but it didn’t seem like anything happened to him,” said one of the students. She said that smoke was “clearly visible after the second shot” and that “Mr Abe collapsed the moment the second shot was fired”.

The second student said that the shooter “didn’t flee and stayed there, putting his gun nearby. He was very quickly surrounded by security.”

Rahm Emanuel, US ambassador to Japan, said he was shocked by the shooting. “Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and unwavering ally of the United States,” he said.

During his two stints in office from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020, Abe was known for his economic revival plan and his conservative views on history.

Launched in 2012, the stimulus programme, known as Abenomics, aimed to lift the Japanese economy out of decades of deflation.

Abe also held hawkish views on history and reforming the pacifist constitution to expand Japan’s military role — an agenda he continued to champion following his resignation two years ago owing to ill health.

Even after Fumio Kishida took over as prime minister last October, Abe remained influential in all aspects of Japanese policy as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic party’s largest faction.

Before the shooting incident on Friday, the former prime minister was campaigning for Sunday’s elections for Japan’s upper house. He fiercely defended the legacy of his economic programme and urged the public to back a boost in defence spending in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fears that China could attack Taiwan.

Beyond his economic policy, Abe pushed for free trade and promoted his vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, which has been inherited by Kishida and US president Joe Biden as they build a series of alliances in the region to counter an increasingly aggressive China.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: Ipodifier