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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was rushed to hospital bleeding after being shot while giving a speech on a street in Nara, western Japan on Friday, Japanese media reported.
Abe, 67, was unconscious and in cardiac arrest, according to the Japanese media outlet Kyodo News.
He appeared to have no vital signs, local firefighters said, NHK reported. Its conditions have not been updated.
The moment Abe collapsed, a shot-like sound was heard, NHK reported. He appeared to have been hit from behind.
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US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, “We are all saddened and shocked by the killing of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Abe-san was an outstanding leader of Japan and an unwavering ally of the United States. , the US government and the American people are praying for the welfare of Abe-san, his family and the Japanese people. ”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Bali, Indonesia for a G20 meeting, said he was “deeply saddened by the shooting” and “Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, his family and the Japanese people. Very sad moment. “
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Former President Donald Trump reacted to Abe’s shooting on his social media platform Truth Social, writing, “Absolutely devastating news that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a truly outstanding man and leader, was shot and is in very serious condition. He was a true friend of mine and, more importantly, America. This is a great blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much. We are all praying for Shinzo and the his beautiful family! “
Former Vice President Mike Pence took to Twitter early Friday morning to say that he and his wife Karen are “deeply troubled to learn of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s shooting.”
Pence continued: “Abe-san has been an extraordinary leader of Japan and an unwavering ally of the United States. We join millions of people who pray for this truly good man and his family. God bless Shinzo Abe.” She shared the tweet along with a photo of him with Abe.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have not yet made any statements.
Abe was giving an election speech before Sunday’s election for the upper house of parliament at the time of the shooting.
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A male suspect was arrested on the spot and a gun was confiscated. NHK identified the suspect as Yamagami Tetsuya, 41.
According to NHK, several officials from the country’s Defense Ministry said Yamagami had worked for the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years until about 2005. He reportedly told police he was dissatisfied with former Prime Minister Abe and wanted to kill him.
According to Kyodo News, some of the candidates have canceled street speeches after news of the shooting.
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Abe is Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He served from 2006 to 2007 and again in 2012 until his resignation in 2020 after his chronic ulcerative colitis resurfaced, calling his decision at the time “heartbreaking”.
During his tenure, he focused on the economy, rebuilding the Japanese military and being a major player in international affairs.
He was succeeded by Fumio Kishida who reportedly plans to give a short briefing on the shooting at some point.
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This is a breaking story. The Associated Press contributed to this report.