Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, an arch-conservative and one of the country’s most divisive figures, was shot and critically wounded during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan. He was airlifted to a hospital but officials said he was not breathing and his heart had stopped.
Police arrested the suspected gunman at the scene of the shocking attack in a country that’s one of the world’s safest and has some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Abe was in “severe condition” and he hoped Abe will survive. Abe is 67 and was Japan’s longest-serving leader before stepping down in 2020 due to a chronic stomach condition.
Kishida called the attack “dastardly and barbaric” and added that the crime occurring during the election campaign, which is the foundation of democracy, was absolutely unforgivable.
Kishida and his Cabinet ministers hastily returned to Tokyo from other campaign events around the country. “I’m praying for former prime minister Abe’s survival from the bottom of my heart,” Kishida said at the prime minister’s office after he arrived on a defense helicopter from Yamagata.
Abe was taken to Nara Prefectural University Hospital, and Kishida said he was receiving the utmost medical treatment. He was in cardio and pulmonary arrest as he was being airlifted to the hospital, local fire department official Makoto Morimoto said.