Shinzo Abe - latest: Former prime minister ‘never regained vitals’ after being shot

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Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot on Friday morning while giving a campaign speech for an upcoming national election.

He was shot from behind minutes after he started his speech in Nara in western Japan. He was airlifted to a hospital for emergency treatment but was not breathing and his heart had stopped.

The hospital that tried to save him said he died at 5.03pm, about five and a half hours after he was shot. A doctor said Mr Abe had bled to death from two deep wounds, one on the right side of his neck. He had no vital signs when he was brought in.

In an address to the nation earlier, prime minister Fumio Kishida condemned the shooting as unforgivable, calling it a “dastardly and barbaric” act.

Police have arrested a 41-year-old man suspected of carrying out the shooting. Identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a resident of Nara, he was a former maritime self-defence force member, reported Fuji TV.

He reportedly told police he was unhappy with the former Japanese prime minister and intended to kill him.

Key points

  • Former prime minister Shinzo Abe dead

  • Shinzo Abe shot and critically wounded while campaigning in western Japan

  • Police identify shooting suspect, who has been detained

  • Suspect told police he 'intended to kill' Abe – report

Trump laments ‘devastating’ murder of Shinzo Abe and calls for killer to be dealt with ‘harshly’

20:35 , Joe Middleton

Donald Trump has offered his thoughts on the killing of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot by a lone gunman while giving a campaign speech.

Posting on his bespoke platform Truth Social, the former president first described Mr Abe’s shooting as “devastating news”, calling him “a truly great man and leader” as well as “a truly great friend of mine and, much more importantly, America.”

When the news came that Mr Abe had died from his injuries, Mr Trump wrote: “Really BAD NEWS FOR THE WORLD! Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is dead. He was assassinated. His Killer was captured and will hopefully be dealt with swiftly and harshly.”

Andrew Naughtie has the details.

Trump reacts to ‘devastating’ murder of Shinzo Abe

Biden ‘stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened’ by assassination of Shinzo Abe

20:04 , Joe Middleton

President Joe Biden said he was “stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened” by the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the close US ally’s longest-serving leader.

Mr Abe was killed Friday morning while campaigning in Nara, a city in western Japan, for a candidate in the upcoming Japanese election.

Just after he began his speech, a gunman who’d taken up a position behind him fired two shots at the former prime minister, striking him twice. He was quickly airlifted to a hospital, but doctors said he bled to death from his wounds.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

Biden ‘stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened’ by assassination of Shinzo Abe

Today show uses South Korean flags to report death of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe

19:25 , Joe Middleton

NPR forced to delete tweet calling Shinzo Abe a ‘divisive arch-conservative’ after his assassination

18:42 , Joe Middleton

America’s public radio broadcaster NPR was forced to delete a tweet calling Shinzo Abe “a divisive arch-conservative” amid backlash on social media.

NPR posted its tweet just house after the former Japanese prime minister was assassinated in the city of Nara.

Although the words were taken from Associated Press report on the assassination of Abe, many commentators disagreed with the characterisation.

NPR forced to delete tweet calling Shinzo Abe a ‘divisive arch-conservative’

Biden orders US flags to be flown at half-mast on Sunday to honour Abe

18:12 , Joe Middleton

President Joe Biden said on Friday he had ordered US flags to be flown at half-mast through July 10 to honor Shinzo Abe.

Abe “was a proud servant of the Japanese people and a faithful friend to the United States,” Biden said in statement.

“Even in the moment he was attacked and killed, he was engaged in the work of democracy, to which he dedicated his life.”

Biden to visit Japanese embassy following Abe’s death

17:52 , Joe Middleton

US president Joe Biden said he will visit the Japanese embassy in Washington to sign a condolence book after former prime minister Shinzo Abe was gunned down on Friday.

He also said he tried to call prime minister Fumio Kishida, who he called “a very solid guy,” adding “Japan is a very, very stable ally.”

Barack Obama pays tribute to ‘friend and longtime partner’ Abe

17:37 , Joe Middleton

Barack Obama today paid tribute to his “friend and longtime partner” Shinzo Abe.

The former US president said he was “shocked and saddened” Mr Abe’s assassination praised his devotion to Japan.

Japan needs to stay calm in the face of Shinzo Abe’s senseless death

17:16 , Joe Middleton

Japan is known for being one of the safest places in the world – especially when it comes to guns, writes Yuki Matsuzaki.

Opinion: Japan needs to stay calm in the face of Shinzo Abe’s senseless death

Abe shooting raises questions of security for high-profile figures

16:43 , Joe Middleton

The fatal shooting of former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe from close range at a political rally on Friday has raised questions about protection for high-profile figures in a country where political violence and gun crimes are extremely rare.

Dignitaries in Japan often travel with modest security details focused mainly on direct physical threats rather than being protected by the heavily-armed personnel braced for firearms attacks seen in places like the United States.

Officials from the Nara prefectoral police department told reporters that the request for security at the event was “sudden” and that the department would look into whether security was sufficient and take appropriate action.

Nippon Television quoted Nara police as saying Abe was protected at Friday’s rally by one armed specialised police officer and some other local officers. Nara police declined to say how many police officers were handling Abe‘s security.

Several commentators said security around the former premier should have been stronger.

“Anyone could have hit him from that distance,” Masazumi Nakajima, a former Japanese police detective, told Japan’s TBS television. “I think that security was a little too weak.”

“The person needs to be covered from all directions,” Koichi Ito, a VIP security specialist, told national broadcaster NHK. “If this kind of thing isn’t carried out 100%, it’s no good.”

There were just 10 firearm-related incidents in Japan last year, only one of them fatal, according to the National Police Agency.

Queen ’deeply saddened’ by the death of Shinzo Abe

16:18 , Chiara Giordano

The Queen has sent a message of condolence to the Emperor of Japan, following the death of the country's former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

The monarch said: "My family and I were deeply saddened to hear the news of the sudden and tragic death of former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

"I have fond memories of meeting Mr Abe and his wife during their visit to the United Kingdom in 2016. His love for Japan, and his desire to forge ever-closer bonds with the United Kingdom, were clear.

"I wish to convey my deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and to the people of Japan at this difficult time."

Japan’s former powerful prime minister leaves divided legacy

16:02 , Chiara Giordano

 (Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images)
(Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images)

Shinzo Abe was a political blueblood groomed for power. Japan's longest serving prime minister, he was also perhaps the most polarising, complex politician in recent Japanese history.

Abe angered both liberals at home and Second World War victims in Asia with his hawkish push to revamp the military and his revisionist view that Japan was given an unfair verdict by history for its brutal past.

At the same time, he revitalised Japan's economy, led efforts for the nation to take a stronger role in Asia and served as a rare beacon of political stability before stepping down two years ago for health reasons.

"He's the most towering political figure in Japan over the past couple of decades," said Dave Leheny, a political scientist at Waseda University. "He wanted Japan to be respected on the global stage in the way that he felt was deserved ... He also wanted Japan to not have to keep apologising for World War II."

Abe believed Japan's postwar track record of economic success, peace and global cooperation was something "other countries should pay more attention to, and that Japanese should be proud of," Leheny said.

Assassination stuns Japan – a country where gun violence is rare

15:42 , Chiara Giordano

 (Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)
(Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)

The assassination of Shinzo Abe has stunned and saddened people in a country where firearms are strictly regulated and political violence is extremely rare.

From prime minister Fumio Kishida, a protege of Abe, to ordinary people on social media, there was an outpouring of grief. The last time a former or sitting prime minister was killed was nearly 90 years ago.

“I am incredibly shocked,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told a regular news conference after the shooting and before Abe‘s death was announced, fighting back tears and sniffling audibly. “No matter the reason, such a heinous act is absolutely unforgivable. It is an affront against democracy.”

Koki Tanaka, a 26-year-old IT worker in downtown Tokyo, voiced a similar view: “I was simply astonished that this could happen in Japan.”

Newspapers produced special editions and Japanese television repeatedly broadcast footage of the shooting, showing Abe talking energetically into a hand-held microphone surrounded by political banners until there came the sound of a gunshot, followed by another.

Japan’s gun-ownership restrictions do not allow private citizens to have handguns, and licensed hunters may own only rifles. Gun owners must attend classes, pass a written test and undergo a mental health evaluation and a background check.

Shootings, when they occur, typically involve “yakuza” gangsters using illegal weapons. In 2021, there were 10 shooting incidents, eight involving gangsters, according to police data. One person was killed and four wounded.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro orders three-day mourning for Shinzo Abe

15:22 , Chiara Giordano

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro expressed "outrage and sadness" over the assassination of Japanese former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and said he had ordered three days of national mourning in Brazil.

Abe, Japan's longest-serving leader, died on Friday hours after he was shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election in the western city of Nara.

Bolsonaro called Abe, who was 67, "a brilliant leader and a great friend of Brazil" while sharing a picture alongside him on Twitter and urging "such an unjustifiable cruelty" to be severely punished.

The Brazilian president met with Abe multiple times as he attended a G-20 summit in Osaka months after taking office in 2019 and traveled back to Japan for an official visit later that year.

"We stand with Japan," Bolsonaro said.

Brazil is home to the world's largest Japanese population outside Japan.

 (Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
(Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Assassination raises questions about Japan’s VIP security

14:46 , Chiara Giordano

The fatal shooting of former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe from close-range at a political rally has raised questions about protection for high-profile figures in a country where political violence and gun crimes are extremely rare.

Politicians in Japan often travel with fairly light security details compared to their peers in the United States and other countries that have higher rates of violent crime.

Abe, 67, was campaigning in the western city of Nara for Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates ahead of a Sunday election when he was shot, with Nippon TV saying the assailant was about 3 metres (10 feet) away.

Police arrested a 41-year-old male suspect and said later the shooting was carried out with a home-made gun and the suspect had admitted to the act.

An official of the Nara prefectural police department told reporters the department would look into whether security at the event was sufficient and take appropriate action. More guns were found at the suspect's home, the official said.

Nippon Television quoted Nara police as saying Abe was protected at today’s rally by one armed specialised police officer who travelled from Tokyo, and some other local officers.

When he was shot Abe was standing at an intersection outside a train station, speaking to a crowd of hundreds as buses and vans passed behind his exposed back on the road where the assailant appeared.

Several commentators said security around the former premier should have been stronger.

"Anyone could have hit him from that distance," Masazumi Nakajima, a former Japanese police detective, told Japan's TBS television. "I think that security was a little too weak."

"The person needs to be covered from all directions," Koichi Ito, a VIP security specialist, told national broadcaster NHK. "If this kind of thing isn't carried out 100 per cent, it's no good."

Shooting suspect ‘said he had complaints about Shinzo Abe unrelated to politics’

14:02 , Chiara Giordano

The man arrested over Shinzo Abe’s death said he wanted to kill him because he had complaints about him unrelated to politics, broadcaster NHK has reported.

Nara prefectural police earlier confirmed the arrest of Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, on suspicion of attempted murder.

NHK reported that the suspect served in the Maritime Self-Defence Force for three years in the 2000s.

Mr Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister, was still highly influential in the governing Liberal Democratic Party and headed its largest faction, Seiwakai.

Elections for Japan’s upper house, the less powerful chamber of its parliament, are on Sunday.

Prime minister Fumio Kishida Kishida pledged to hold them as planned.

David Cameron pays tribute to ‘good friend’ and ‘kind and decent man'

13:25 , Chiara Giordano

Former prime minister David Cameron met Shinzo Abe many times, and the Japanese leader was among those to warn the UK of the dangers of exiting the EU.

Mr Abe used a meeting in Downing Street with Mr Cameron just weeks before the 2016 referendum vote to press home the value of EU membership to Japanese investors in the UK.

Mr Cameron called his death “devastating and truly shocking news”.

Former prime minister David Cameron has paid tribute to his ‘good friend’ Shinzo Abe (Anthony Devlin /Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Former prime minister David Cameron has paid tribute to his ‘good friend’ Shinzo Abe (Anthony Devlin /Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

“Shinzo Abe was a good friend personally, a strong partner to the UK, and a thoroughly kind and decent man,” he said.

“I enjoyed working with him. My heart goes out to his family and friends, and to the people of Japan at this very sad time.”

Shinzo Abe was ‘extraordinary partner’ for United States, says Antony Blinken

13:10 , Chiara Giordano

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the assassination of Shinzo Abe "shocking" and "profoundly disturbing," describing him as a leader of great vision and an extraordinary partner for the United States.

Blinken made the comments at the start of a trilateral meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers in Bali.

Blinken said that to the United States, Abe "was an extraordinary partner and someone who was clearly a great leader."

He said Abe brought the relationship between the United States and Japan "to new heights" during his time in office.

Blinken said Abe was "a man of great vision for what a free and open Indo-Pacific could look like and also an incredible ability to really work towards that vision," referring to Abe's signature foreign policy of pushing back against China's expanding regional influence, which Washington also adopted.

Blinken called Abe's death "a loss for Japan, a loss for the world."

Abe’s killing triggers unfavourable remarks from Chinese nationals

12:53 , Namita Singh

In China, Shinzo Abe’s shooting triggered unfavorable comments from tens of thousands of nationalist citizens on social media.Some quipped “hope he’s not ok”, while dozens half-jokingly called the shooter “a hero” or “anti-Japan hero”.

Others claimed Mr Abe’s injuries were a comfort to the souls of people who had died in Japan’s invasion of China during World War II.

While not necessarily the view of most Chinese, the posts reflect strong public sentiment — encouraged by government propaganda — against right-wing Japanese politicians who question or deny that the military committed atrocities in China.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a press conference on Wednesday, 6 July 2022 (AP)
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a press conference on Wednesday, 6 July 2022 (AP)

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian declined to comment. He said China expressed sympathies with Mr Abe’s family and that the shooting shouldn’t be linked with bilateral relations.

Angela Merkel ‘deeply shocked and devastated’

12:44 , Namita Singh

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose time in office from 2005 to 2021 largely overlapped with that of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, said she was “deeply shocked and devastated” by the news that he had died of injuries “inflicted in a cowardly and vile assassination hours earlier”.

“My first thoughts are with his wife and family,” she said in a statement. “I grieve with them. I wish them comfort and support.”

‘Homemade gun’ recovered from scene of Shinzo Abe shooting

12:35 , Namita Singh

Japanese authorities believe that the gun that was used to assassinate former prime minister Shinzo Abe in the western city of Nara on Friday morning was homemade.

Police have arrested a suspect, identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, who made no attempt to run when leaped upon by security guards, and recovered a “homemade gun” from him.

The suspect was “holding a cylinder-shaped object”, which released a “white smoke” from its tip, according to state broadcaster NHK.

Witnesses said that two loud gunshots were heard around 11.30am on Friday, and Mr Abe collapsed on the street, clutching his chest.

Read the details in this report from Alisha Rahaman Sarkar:

‘Homemade gun’ recovered from scene of Shinzo Abe shooting

Trump mourns murder of Shinzo Abe

12:34 , Namita Singh

Donald Trump has offered his thoughts on the killing of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot while giving a campaign speech.

Posting on his bespoke platform Truth Social, the former US president first described Mr Abe’s shooting as “devastating news”, calling him “a truly great man and leader” as well as “a truly great friend of mine and, much more importantly, America”.

When the news came that Mr Abe had died from his injuries, Mr Trump wrote: “Really bad news for the world! Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is dead. He was assassinated. His killer was captured and will hopefully be dealt with swiftly and harshly.

“Few people know what a great man and leader Shinzo Abe was, but history will teach them and be kind. He was a unifier like no other, but above all, he was a man who loved and cherished his magnificent country, Japan. Shinzo Abe will be greatly missed. There will never be another like him!”

My colleague Andrew Naughtie reports:

Trump reacts to ‘devastating’ murder of Shinzo Abe

‘Tragic loss’, says foreign secretary Liz Truss

12:24 , Namita Singh

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said the death of Shinzo Abe was a “tragic loss”.

She tweeted: “Shocked to learn of the death of former PM Abe - struck down while playing his part in the democratic process.

“A tragic loss of a great figure who helped transform Japan and forge even closer bonds with the UK.”

'An act of terrorism’, says Iran

12:17 , Namita Singh

Iran condemned the fatal attack on Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe as “an act of terrorism”.

“As a country that has been a victim of terrorism and has lost great leaders to terrorists, we are following the news closely and with concern,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson said.

Italy and France condole Abe’s death, as India declares national mourning

12:11 , Namita Singh

Italy is shocked by this terrible attack that has hit Japan and free democratic debate, said the country’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, while condoling the death of Shinzo Abe.

“Abe was a great protagonist of Japanese and international political life in recent decades, thanks to his innovative spirit and his reforming vision. Italy sends its condolences to his family, to the government and to the entire Japanese people,” he said.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced a day of national mourning “as a mark of respect” for the former prime minister.

“I am shocked and saddened beyond words at the tragic demise of one of my dearest friends, Shinzo Abe,” he tweeted. “He was a towering global statesman, an outstanding leader, and a remarkable administrator. He dedicated his life to make Japan and the world a better place.”

French president Emmanuel Macron also mourned the former prime minister. “Japan has lost a great prime minister, who dedicated his life to his country and worked to ensure order in the world,” Mr Macron said on Twitter.

International leaders mourn the killing of Shinzo Abe

12:08 , Namita Singh

South Korean president Yoon Suk-Yeol sent condolences to Abe’s family and the Japanese people “who have lost the longest-serving prime minister and respected politician in Japan’s constitutional history”. The president called the shooting an “unforgivable act of crime”.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese described Abe’s death as devastating news. “Mr Abe was one of Australia’s closest friends on the world stage... Under his leadership, Japan emerged as one of Australia’s most like-minded partners in Asia – a legacy that endures today,” he said.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe walks after delivering a press conference at the prime minister official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 28 August 2020 (EPA)
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe walks after delivering a press conference at the prime minister official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 28 August 2020 (EPA)

“Mr Abe was a leader in the Indo-Pacific, championing a vision of a free and open region. The Quad and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are in many ways the results of his diplomatic leadership.

“Mr Abe was also a giant on the world stage – a leader in the G7, the G20 and the United Nations. His legacy was one of global impact, and a profound and positive one for Australia.”

Blinken says killing of Abe ‘profoundly disturbing’

11:44 , Namita Singh

US secretary of state Antony Blinken called the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe “shocking” and “profoundly disturbing”.

Mr Blinken made the comment at the start of a trilateral meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers in Bali.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken speaks during a trilateral meeting with South Korean foreign minister Park Jin and Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi at the G-20 Foreign Ministers Summit in Nusa Dua, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali Friday, 8 July 2022 (AP)
US secretary of state Antony Blinken speaks during a trilateral meeting with South Korean foreign minister Park Jin and Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi at the G-20 Foreign Ministers Summit in Nusa Dua, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali Friday, 8 July 2022 (AP)

UK ‘stands’ with Japan

11:41 , Namita Singh

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will be remembered for his “global leadership through unchartered times” following his “incredibly sad” death, Boris Johnson has said.

Mr Johnson was joined by his predecessor Theresa May in expressing her sorrow at the death of Mr Abe, who called the shooting of her friend “truly heartbreaking”.

Mr Johnson tweeted: “Incredibly sad news about Shinzo Abe.

“His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people.

“The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.”

Ms May, who won the backing of Shinzo Abe for her Brexit deal after talks in the UK in January 2019, tweeted: “Truly heartbreaking to hear of the death of my friend Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan - killed in the most appalling of circumstances while campaigning for his political party.”

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi was also among those who paid tribute to the politician, calling his death “heartbreaking”.

“We enter politics to serve and to try and make the world a better place,” he tweeted. “Shinzo Abe has lost his life in pursuit of that noble aim. May he rest in eternal peace.”

‘A leader and statesman of extraordinary quality and character’

11:38 , Namita Singh

Former prime minister Tony Blair called Shinzo Abe “a leader and statesman of extraordinary quality and character”.

He said: “I knew him and worked with him and always had huge respect for his capability. I am shocked and saddened by his senseless murder. I send my deepest condolences to his wife Akie, with whom my wife Cherie also worked closely, and to all the people of Japan.”

Chinese embassy in Japan voices condolences on death of ex-Japanese PM Abe

11:30 , Namita Singh

The Chinese embassy in Japan expressed condolences over the death of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on Friday in a shooting attack.

“Former prime minister Abe made contributions towards improving China-Japan relations during his term. We express our condolences on his death and send our sympathies to his family,” an embassy spokesman said on the embassy website.

Taiwan has lost a close friend, says president Tsai Ing-wen

11:26 , Namita Singh

The world has lost an important leader and Taiwan has lost a friend, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday after former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe died hours after he was shot while giving an election campaign speech.

Not only has the international community lost an important leader, but Taiwan has also lost an important and close friend.

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen

“Taiwan and Japan are both democratic countries with the rule of law, and our government severely condemns violent and illegal acts,” Ms Tsai said in a statement released by her office.

Abe ‘never regained vital signs’

11:14 , Namita Singh

Nara Medical University emergency department chief Hidetada Fukushima said Shinzo Abe suffered major damage to his heart in addition to two neck wounds that damaged an artery, causing extensive bleeding.

He was in a state of cardio and pulmonary arrest when he arrived at the hospital and never regained his vital signs, Dr Fukushima said.

Attack on former Japan PM stuns nation known for gun control

11:13 , Namita Singh

News that former prime minister Shinzo Abe had been shot in broad daylight Friday shocked not only Japan but the entire world, which has come to associate the relatively low-crime nation with strict gun control.

Japan, with a population of 125 million, had just 10 gun-related criminal cases last year, resulting in one death and four injuries, according to police. Eight of those cases were gang-related. Tokyo had zero gun incidents, injuries or deaths during that same year, although 61 guns were seized there.

Much remains unclear about the motive and identity of the suspect in Friday’s attack, who was taken into custody at the scene. Mr Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot while campaigning in Nara in western Japan for candidates for his ruling party and died later in a hospital. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for Sunday.

Then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference on Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP at his official residence in Tokyo, Friday, 15 March 2013 (AP)
Then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference on Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP at his official residence in Tokyo, Friday, 15 March 2013 (AP)

Although major universities in Japan have riflery clubs and Japanese police are armed, most Japanese go through life without ever handling, or even seeing, a real gun.

Stabbings are more common as a fatal crime. And so the debate over the right to bear arms is a distant issue in Japan and has been for decades.

“Japanese people are in a state of shock,” said Shiro Kawamoto, professor at the College of Risk Management at Nihon University in Tokyo.

The campaign event where the attack occurred drew a huge crowd of people, making security a challenge, the professor said.

Germany and France express solidarity with Japan

10:59 , Namita Singh

Germany is at Japan’s side, a German government spokesperson said in response to news that former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe died on Friday hours after he was shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election.

“France expresses its solidarity with Japan after the murder of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe,” said the French foreign ministry in a statement.

Abe ‘bled to death from two deep wounds’

10:46 , Namita Singh

Former prime minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving leader, died on Friday hours after he was shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election.

It was the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since the days of prewar militarism in the 1930s.

The hospital that tried to save him said he died at 5.03pm, about five and a half hours after he was shot. A doctor said Mr Abe had bled to death from two deep wounds, one on the right side of his neck. He had no vital signs when he was brought in.

PM Johnson says Britain stands with Japan after Abe’s death

10:42 , Namita Singh

Prime minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that Britain stood with Japan at this dark time following the “incredibly sad news” about the death of former premier Shinzo Abe in a shooting.

“Incredibly sad news about Shinzo Abe,” he said on Twitter. “His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people.”

“The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.”

Polish PM Morawiecki ‘deeply shocked’ by Abe killing

10:38 , Namita Singh

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday he was shocked by the death former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

“I am deeply shocked by the news of the assassination of [Shinzo Abe]” he wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the family of our Japanese friend who was always very kind to Poland. May he Rest In Peace.”

Key events in life of former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe

10:35 , Namita Singh

Born into a prominent political family, Shinzo Abe was the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

While credited with bringing a degree of stability to Japan following a period of economic malaise, Mr Abe angered neighbours South Korea and China - along with many Japanese people - with his nationalistic rhetoric and calls to revise the country’s pacifist constitution.

File: apan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe attends the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Danang, Vietnam (REUTERS)
File: apan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe attends the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Danang, Vietnam (REUTERS)

Here is a look at some key dates in Mr Abe‘s life and career, which ended on Friday when he was shot dead during a campaign speech.

21 September 1954: Shinzo Abe is born in Tokyo, the son of Shintaro Abe, who served as Japan’s foreign minister, and grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, a former prime minister.

1977: Graduates from Seikei University in Tokyo with a degree in political science, after which he

moves to the US to study public policy at the University of Southern California for three semesters.

1979: Begins working at Kobe Steel as the firm was expanding its presence abroad.

1982: Leaves the company to pursue new positions at the foreign ministry and with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

1993: First elected as a LDP legislator representing the south-western prefecture of Yamaguchi. Mr Abe, already viewed as a conservative, is a member of the party’s Mori faction that had once been headed by his father, who died in 1991.

2005: Mr Abe is appointed chief cabinet secretary under then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, during which he leads negotiations to return Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea. The same year, he is elected head of the LDP, putting him in line to take over as prime minister.

26 September 2006: He becomes Japan’s prime minister for the first time, overseeing economic reforms while taking a hard line on North Korea and seeking to engage with South Korea and China.

2007: Following electoral defeats that saw the LDP lose control of the legislature for the first time in 52 years, Mr Abe resigns as prime minister, citing health reasons. He has been suffering from ulcerative colitis but was able to control it with medication.

2012: After again being elected LDP president, Mr Abe becomes prime minister for the second time.

2013: Seeking to boost growth, Mr Abe launches his "Abenomics" policies featuring easy lending and structural reforms. Japan’s relations with China undergo a particularly rough patch but begin to improve after Mr Abe meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Beijing.

2014-2020: Re-elected LDP leader, he serves two additional terms as prime minister for a total of four, during which he develops close relations with then-US president Donald Trump, holding summits and playing golf together.

28 August 2020: Announces he will step down as prime minister, again citing health reasons, after his ulcerative colitis flares up again. By that point, Mr Abe had already become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

2021: Despite leaving office, Mr Abe shows he can still rile Beijing with comments on Taiwan, the self-governing island China claims as its own territory and threatens to attack. In a speech, Mr Abe warned that "military adventure would lead to economic suicide".

8 July 2022: Mr Abe is shot and fatally wounded during a campaign event in the city of Nara. Police arrest a male suspect but no motive was immediately known.

AP

‘There has never been anything like this’

10:29 , Namita Singh

Airo Hino, political science professor at Waseda University, said such a shooting was unprecedented in Japan. “There has never been anything like this,” he said.

Senior Japanese politicians are accompanied by armed security agents but often get close to the public, especially during political campaigns when they make roadside speeches and shake hands with passersby.

In 2007, the mayor of Nagasaki was shot and killed by a yakuza gangster. The head of the Japan Socialist Party was assassinated during a speech in 1960 by a right-wing youth with a samurai short sword. A few other prominent postwar politicians were attacked but not injured.

Everything we know about suspected killer Tetsuya Yamagami

10:21 , Namita Singh

Japan’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has died after he was shot at a campaign event in the western city of Nara.

Mr Abe, 67, was giving a stump speech on behalf of a local Liberal Democratic Party candidate near a train station on Friday morning when two shots rang out, causing him to fall bleeding to the ground clutching his chest.

Police have already arrested a suspect, named as Tetsuya Yamagami, who made no attempt to run when leaped upon by security guards and voluntarily gave up his weapon, described as a large double-barreled shotgun, likely homemade.

Details on Mr Yamagami are scant at present, although he is believed to be 41, a resident of Nara and a veteran of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, serving between 2002 and 2005, according to local broadcaster NHK.

A man, believed to be a suspect shooting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is held by police officers at Yamato Saidaiji Station in Nara (via REUTERS)
A man, believed to be a suspect shooting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is held by police officers at Yamato Saidaiji Station in Nara (via REUTERS)

He has reportedly since told police he was dissatisfied with Mr Abe and intended to kill him.

My colleague Joe Sommerlad has more:

Everything we know about Shinzo Abe’s suspected killer

Breaking: Former prime minister Shinzo Abe dead

10:06 , Namita Singh

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot during a campaign speech, reported NHK television.He was shot from behind minutes after he started his speech Friday in Nara in western Japan.

He was airlifted to a hospital for emergency treatment but was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.

A man opened fire on Abe, 67, from behind with an apparently homemade gun as he spoke at a drab traffic island in the western city of Nara, Japanese media showed earlier.

It was the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since the days of prewar militarism in the 1930s

Breaking: Shinzo Abe has died, state broadcaster reports

09:54 , Adam Withnall

Shinzo Abe has died in hospital after being shot during a campaign speech on Friday morning, state broadcaster NHK is reporting.

Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe dies after being shot during speech – reports

China joins other world leaders to condemn shooting

09:23 , Namita Singh

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian expressed “shock” at the attack on former president Shinzo Abe. “We are following the development of the situation and hope that former Prime Minister Abe will get out of danger and recover soon.”Thai deputy prime minister Don Pramudwinai also shared the sentiment.

“Japan has been a close friend of Thailand, and former prime minister Abe and the prime minister are good friends.”

Malaysian foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah said he was “saddened and shocked by the tragic shooting” of Mr Abe. “The government and people of Malaysia are praying for his speedy recovery and for his family to be given strength to endure this tragedy.”

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez also took to Twitter to condemn the attack.

“I am shocked by the shooting of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. [Sending] our best wishes for him and his family, and our resounding condemnation of this coward attack. Spain stands in solidarity with the Japanese people in these difficult times.”

Moment Japanese former PM Shinzo Abe shot at campaign rally

09:09 , Namita Singh

World leaders react to attack

09:08 , Namita Singh

Several world leaders reacted to the attack on Shinzo Abe on Friday.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his condolences. “I don’t know what is behind this assassination attempt. I found out about it during the meeting. I was the first to start the speech by expressing my condolences to my Japanese colleague for what happened,” he told reporters at a G20 meeting in Indonesia.

“There will probably be an investigation. I have nothing more to add.”

This picture taken on 6 July 2022 shows former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe raising his arms with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate Keiichiro Asao (AFP via Getty Images)
This picture taken on 6 July 2022 shows former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe raising his arms with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate Keiichiro Asao (AFP via Getty Images)

Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was “deeply shocked” to learn about the attack. “This is a senseless act of violence. Mr Abe is a good friend of Singapore.

“I had just hosted him to lunch in May, on my visit to Tokyo. My thoughts and prayers are with Mr Abe and his family.”South Korea’s foreign minister Park Jin wished Mr Abe a speedy recovery.

“It’s shocking news. I wish for former Prime Minister Abe’s speedy recovery,” Mr Park told Japanese counterpart Hayashi Yoshimasa at the G20 meeting, according to his office.

Shinzo Abe: Japan’s longest serving prime minister

08:58 , Namita Singh

Shinzo Abe, has been the country’s longest-serving prime minister having served two terms in the post.

Mr Abe resigned in 2020, cutting his tenure a year and a month shorter than it was supposed to end in September 2021.

Describing his decision as “gut-wrenching”, Mr Abe said a chronic illness which had been controlled with treatment had resurfaced.He has had ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager.

Mr Abe has remained an important figure in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since, reported NHK, and on Friday morning was out campaigning ahead of Sunday’s upper house parliamentary elections when the shooting took place.

Read more about the political career of Mr Abe in this detailed report from my colleague Sravasti Dasgupta:

Shinzo Abe: Japan’s longest serving prime minister

Abe, the youngest prime minister of Japan

08:52 , Namita Singh

Shinzo Abe became Japan’s youngest prime minister in 2006, at age 52, but his overly nationalistic first stint abruptly ended a year later, also because of his health.

The end of his scandal-laden first stint as prime minister was the beginning of six years of annual leadership change, remembered as an era of “revolving door” politics that lacked stability and long-term policies.

This picture taken on 6 July 2022 shows former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (C) meeting with supporters after he delivered a campaign speech for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (AFP via Getty Images)
This picture taken on 6 July 2022 shows former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (C) meeting with supporters after he delivered a campaign speech for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (AFP via Getty Images)

When he returned to office in 2012, Mr Abe vowed to revitalise the nation and get its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.

He won six national elections and built a rock-solid grip on power, bolstering Japan’s defence role and capability and its security alliance with the US. He also stepped up patriotic education at schools and raised Japan’s international profile.

Asian leaders stunned by the attack on Abe

08:18 , Namita Singh

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply distressed by the attack on my dear friend Abe Shinzo”.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and the people of Japan,” he tweeted.

Philippine foreign secretary Enrique Manalo said he learned the news with great shock and dismay. “I extend my deep sympathy and pray for his early recovery,” he said.

Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi, who is in Bali as president of the G20, conveyed the G20 foreign ministers’ “deepest sympathies and our prayers for the speedy recovery” of Mr Abe.

Ardern ‘deeply shocked’ by attack on Abe

08:05 , Namita Singh

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who was in Sydney meeting with Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese on Friday, said she was “deeply shocked” by the attack on Shinzo Abe.

“He was one of the first leaders I formally met when I became prime minister. He was deeply committed to his role, and also generous and kind. I recall him asking after the recent loss of our pet when I met him, a small gesture but one that speaks to the kind of person he is,” Ms Ardern said.

“My thoughts are with his wife and the people of Japan. Events like this shake us all to the core.”

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese echoed the sentiments.

“Shocking news from Japan that former PM Shinzo Abe has been shot. Our thoughts are with his family and the people of Japan at this time,”Mr Albanese tweeted.

Attack on America's 'true friend' Abe devastating, says Trump

08:00 , Namita Singh

Former US president Donald Trump said the attack on Shinzo Abe was devastating. He described him as a “truly great man and leader” and said he “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!” Mr Trump said on his social media app Truth Social.

This file photo taken on 26 May 2019 shows Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe (R) and US president Donald Trump smiling before playing a round of golf at Mobara Country Club in Chiba (Getty Images)
This file photo taken on 26 May 2019 shows Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe (R) and US president Donald Trump smiling before playing a round of golf at Mobara Country Club in Chiba (Getty Images)

Johnson ‘utterly appalled’ at the shooting of Abe

07:46 , Namita Singh

Prime minister Boris Johnson said he was “utterly appalled” at the shooting of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

“Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe,” he tweeted. “My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

Shooting suspect told police he 'intended to kill' Abe – report

07:38 , Namita Singh

A man suspected of shooting Shinzo Abe told police he was unhappy with the former Japanese prime minister and intended to kill him, national broadcaster NHK said, citing police.

The suspect has been identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a former maritime self-defence force member, and is currently in police custody.

Abe in ‘grave condition’, says Japan’s PM

07:20 , Namita Singh

Prime minister Fumio Kishida said his predecessor Shinzo Abe was in grave condition following the attack.

He condemned the shooting in the western city of Nara during the campaign for Sunday’s upper house election as an unacceptable attack on the foundation of Japan’s democracy.

“I want to pray from my heart that former prime minister Abe will survive,” he said in a televised statement.

File: Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida attends the G7 leaders summit in Germany 26 June 2022. (Reuters)
File: Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida attends the G7 leaders summit in Germany 26 June 2022. (Reuters)

“For it to happen in the midst of an election, which is the foundation of democracy, is a despicable act of barbarism. It cannot be tolerated. I condemn it in the strongest terms.”

Shinzo Abe showing ‘no vital signs’

07:13 , Namita Singh

Former prime minister Shinzo Abe is showing no vital signs after being rushed to hospital, said news agency AFP quoting Japanese media.

TBS Television reported that Mr Abe appeared to have been struck on the left side of his chest and in the neck.

Footage aired by Japanese broadcasters showed Mr Abe lying on the street with several security guards running toward him. He was holding his chest when he collapsed, with his shirt smeared with blood.

US secretary of state expresses deep concern

07:04 , Namita Singh

US secretary of state Antony Blinken expressed deep concern over Shinzo Abe’s condition.

“Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the people of Japan,” Mr Blinken said on the sidelines of a G20 meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali. “This is a very, very sad moment. And we’re awaiting news from Japan.”

Secretary of state Anthony Blinken speaks during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, 24 June 2022 (AP)
Secretary of state Anthony Blinken speaks during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, 24 June 2022 (AP)

Abe shot on the ‘left side of chest’

06:55 , Namita Singh

Shinzo Abe been shot on the left side of his chest and apparently also in the neck, reported TBS Television.

NHK showed video of Mr Abe making a campaign speech outside a train station when two shots rang out, after which the view was briefly obscured and then security officials were seen tackling a man on the ground. A puff of smoke behind Mr Abe could be seen in another video shown in NHK.

Kyodo published a photograph showing Mr Abe lying face-up on the street by a guardrail, blood on his white shirt. People were crowded around him, one administering heart massage.

Police arrests 41-year-old suspect

06:54 , Namita Singh

Police arrested a 41-year-old man suspected of carrying out the shooting at former prime minister Shinzo Abe in the western city of Nara.

He has been identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a resident of Nara. Media said he had served in Japan’s military.

Prime minister’s office condemns the attack on Abe

06:45 , Namita Singh

Prime minister Fumio Kishida’s office condemned the attack on Shinzo Abe. “A barbaric act like this is absolutely unforgivable, no matter what the reasons are, and we condemn it strongly,” said chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.

There was however, no official confirmation of Mr Abe’s condition at an emergency news briefing. “Former prime minister Abe‘s condition is not currently known, and we are checking the situation.”

Shinzo Abe shot and critically wounded while campaigning in western Japan

06:36 , Namita Singh

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has been taken to hospital bleeding after he was shot while delivering a speech in the western city of Nara, reported Japanese media. Mr Abe is showing no vital signs after the attack, news agency AFP reported citing local media.

He was airlifted to a hospital but he was not breathing and his heart had stopped, officials said.

Local fire department official Makoto Morimoto said Mr Abe was in cardio and pulmonary arrest after being shot and was taken to a prefectural hospital.

Read the details here:

Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe ‘showing no vital signs’ after being shot during speech

06:24 , Namita Singh

Welcome to The Independent’s live blog where we are providing the latest update on the health of Japan’s former prime minister following an assassination attempt in Nara earlier today.

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