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Former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe shot, showing no vital signs

Ex-prime minister attacked while making campaign speech in western Japan, rushed to a hospital; 1 arrested; Israeli envoy ‘shocked’ by news, ‘praying for his health’

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe, center, on the ground in Nara, western Japan, July 8, 2022. (Kyodo News via AP)
Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe, center, on the ground in Nara, western Japan, July 8, 2022. (Kyodo News via AP)

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was showing no vital signs after apparently being shot at a campaign event in Japan’s Nara region on Friday.

The former leader had been delivering a stump speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections when the sound of gunshots were heard, national broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo news agency said.

Abe, 67, collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party told the Jiji news agency.

The Japanese government confirmed the shooting.

“Former prime minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 a.m. in Nara. One man, believed to be the shooter, has been taken into custody. The condition of former prime minister Abe is currently unknown,” chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

NHK and Kyodo both reported Abe was taken to hospital and appeared to be in cardo-respiratory arrest — a term used in Japan indicating no vital signs, and generally preceding a formal certification of death by a coroner.

Several media outlets reported that he appeared to have been shot from behind, possibly with a shotgun.

NHK reported that a man had been apprehended. The man appeared to be in his 40s and a gun had been confiscated, the network said, citing police sources.

The broadcaster aired footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running toward him. Abe was holding his chest when he collapsed, with his shirt smeared with blood.

Abe had been standing while making an election campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s vote for the parliament’s upper house. NHK said he had been campaigning for a liberal candidate at around 11:30 a.m. at the time of the shooting.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020.

Gilad Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Japan, said he was “absolutely shocked” by the news.

“Being one of the most prominent leaders of Japan, Abe san was amongst the architects of modern relations between Israel & Japan, served as a major catalyzator for the flourishing ties we see today,” Cohen tweeted. “We are all praying for his health.”

Rahm Emanuel, the American ambassador to Japan, said he was “shocked and saddened” by the shooting.

This is a developing story. Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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