Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died less than six hours after getting shot in the chest and neck while delivering a speech at a campaign event on Friday morning.
Abe, 67, was campaigning for a parliamentary election in the Japanese city of Nara at around 11:30 a.m. JST when a man shot him from behind with what was reportedly a homemade gun.
Despite attempts to revive the politician, he succumbed to his injuries and was declared dead at the hospital at 5:03 p.m. JST.
One of the assigned physicians stated on national television that Abe had no vital signs upon reaching the hospital. He reportedly bled to death from two gunshot wounds: one on the right side of his neck and another on the left clavicle.
Prior to the confirmation of Abe’s death, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivered an emotional message condemning the shooting.
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“This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and is absolutely unforgivable,” Kishida was quoted as saying.
Japan’s main political parties similarly condemned the shooting, which marked the first reported assassination of a sitting or former Japanese leader since the 1930s.
Analysts have viewed the attack as unprecedented in a country where political violence is uncommon.
“There has never been anything like this,” said Waseda University political science professor Airo Hino.
Two security officers can be seen tackling the suspected shooter in video footage that has been quickly circulating online since this morning. The man, identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, later told investigators that he wanted Abe dead because he was dissatisfied with him.
Authorities said Yamagami was a Nara resident, while local media revealed that he was a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force soldier who served from 2002 to 2005.
Kishida, who would benefit from a strong victory of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party following the upper house elections on Sunday, has since suspended his election campaign.