Shinzo Abe in ‘very grave condition’ after being shot, says Japanese PM

World leaders offer their prayers, support for former PM following rare shooting in country with strict gun control laws; Netanyahu: Praying for our good friend

A general view shows workers at the scene after an attack on Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe at Kintetsu Yamato-Saidaiji station square in Nara on July 8, 2022. (Jiji Press/AFP)
A general view shows workers at the scene after an attack on Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe at Kintetsu Yamato-Saidaiji station square in Nara on July 8, 2022. (Jiji Press/AFP)

TOKYO — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says ex-leader Shinzo Abe is in “severe condition” after being shot and he hopes Abe will survive.

Abe was shot while giving a campaign speech in western Japan on Friday. Local fire department official Makoto Morimoto said the 67-year-old Abe was not breathing and his heart stopped while being airlifted to a hospital.

Kishida, who belongs to the same political party as Abe, returned to Tokyo from a campaign trip after the shooting.

Kishida spoke to reporters at the prime minister’s office, saying Abe was receiving the utmost medical treatment. “I’m praying for former prime minister Abe’s survival from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Kishida called the attack “dastardly and barbaric” and that the crime during the election campaign, which is the foundation of democracy, is absolutely unforgivable.

Police arrested a male suspect at the scene of the shooting in Nara.

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

NHK public broadcaster aired footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running toward him. He was bleeding and holding his chest.

The attack was a shock in a country that’s one of the world’s safest and with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere.

“Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the people of Japan,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said while attending a Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday he was “appalled and saddened” by the news.

“Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe,” Johnson tweeted.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence, April 7, 2020, in Tokyo. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool Photo via AP)

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was praying for Abe, “our good friend and a friend of Israel.”

“He is a profound, intelligent and sensitive man, who has contributed greatly to Japan and its citizens,” said Netanyahu, noting their multiple meetings over the years and Abe’s belief in the importance of strong ties between Tokyo and Jerusalem.

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.”

Former US president Donald Trump said it was “absolutely devastating news” that Abe was shot and wounded. He said on his social media app that Abe “was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much. We are all praying for Shinzo and his beautiful family!”

European Council president Charles Michel said on Friday he was “shocked and saddened by [the] cowardly attack” on Abe.

Abe was “a true friend, fierce defender of multilateral order & democratic values”, Michel tweeted. “EU stands with people of Japan and [Prime Minister] Fumio Kishida in these difficult times. Profound sympathies to his family.”

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