Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died Friday after being shot while delivering a campaign speech, officials said. He was 67.
The big picture: Abe, who last held office from December 2012 to September 2020, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He resigned in 2020 due to ill health but remained influential in politics.
What happened: Abe was shot dead while delivering a campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s elections to the upper house of parliament in the city of Nara, NHK reported.
- He was taken to the hospital but showed no vital signs, according to the NHK. He suffered two gunshot wounds and died just after 5 p.m. local time, health officials said at a news conference.
- Police have arrested the suspected gunman, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, according to NHK. The former Japanese Navy member was reportedly unhappy with Abe and wanted to kill him because of it, but not because of political differences.
- The gun found at the scene was apparently handmade.
- Shootings are extremely rare in Japan – a country with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world. There were 10 shootings and one gun death in Japan last year. notes the Washington Post.
- Abe’s widow, Akie Abe, will travel with his body to Tokyo, where his family is being held, his office told CNN. Then the funeral will be organized.
What you say: “He worked for peace and stability in Japan and the world,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after confirming Abe’s death
- “He was a dear friend who loved this country,” Kishida added. “Losing a character like that like that is absolutely devastating.”
- Kishda earlier Friday called the attack on Abe “barbaric and malicious and cannot be tolerated.”
- “This is an unforgivable act,” Kishida said, adding that the authorities “will take appropriate measures to deal with the situation.”
World leaders expressed their shock and outrage at the assassination.
- “This is shocking. It’s deeply troubling… It’s also such a profound personal loss for so many people,” said US Secretary of State Tony Blinken told reporters in Indonesia, where he is attending a meeting of G20 foreign ministers.
- “In the United States, Prime Minister Abe has been an exceptional partner. And someone who was clearly a great leader for Japan,” Blinken added.
- “Mr Abe was one of the first world leaders I met when I became Prime Minister. He was always focused, thoughtful and generous,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.
- “This act of violence against Japan’s longest-serving prime minister is unfathomable and we stand with Japan in its condemnation of what happened today.”
Background: Abe rose to prominence in national politics in the early 2000s, according to the New York Times.
- He first became Prime Minister in 2006, but abruptly resigned a year later after several political scandals.
- Abe returned for a second term as prime minister in 2012, pledging to revitalize the economy and change the country’s pacifist constitution — a goal he was unable to achieve due to poor public support.
- The end of his tenure was marked by strong ties to the US, particularly to former President Trump.
- By the time he announced his retirement in 2020, citing ongoing health issues with ulcerative colitis, his popularity had dwindled due to his handling of the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of political scandals, according to the Times.
- His more than seven-year tenure offered a rare steady hand at the helm of Japanese politics. Before taking office in 2012, the country was known for its frequent rotation of prime ministers.
go deeper: World leaders have expressed their shock at the assassination of Japanese man Shinzo Abe
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated throughout with new details.