Shinzo Abe Shot While Giving Speech in Nara: Reports
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe collapsed while making a speech in the city of Nara, around one hour from Kyoto, according to local media reports.
Japanese news outlet NHK reported that Abe was seen falling to the ground bleeding at around 11.30 a.m. local time. NHK reported that its reporter heard a gunshot going off in the vicinity while Abe was speaking.
The former prime minister appeared to be showing no vital signs after the attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from the Japanese authorities.
NHK shared what appeared to be a video of the scene, which showed chaos and smoke, and what looked to be people surrounding a prone Abe.
—NHKニュース (@nhk_news) July 8, 2022
Nara resident Anya Sharute sent Insider several images of the scene, which she said were snapshots from the scene of the moment Abe collapsed.
Other videos from the scene appeared to show a similar cluster of people gathered at the site of Abe’s speech. in this clip, a man calls urgently for assistance over a loudspeaker.
—アカペン｜現役エアコン設計者 (@Rakunalog) July 8, 2022
Asahi News also published what appeared to be an image of Abe lying prone on the ground, with specks of blood visible on his white shirt.
The Nara City fire department confirmed to the Japanese news outlet Nikkei that Abe was airlifted via helicopter to a hospital in Nara prefecture. According to Nikkei, Abe had been speaking near the Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara as part of a scheduled series of political speeches to stump for Liberal Democratic Party candidates.
The Nara police confirmed to Kyodo as well that a pistol was used in the incident.
There were around 30 people at the scene at the time of the incident, per Yahoo! Japan.
Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, tweeted: “We are all saddened and shocked by the shooting of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and unwavering ally of the US.
“The US Government and American people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, & people of Japan,” he added.
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, the Washington Post’s Tokyo bureau chief, reported on remarks from Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. According to Matsuno, all Cabinet members out campaigning for Sunday’s upper house elections have been asked to return to Tokyo while the government coordinates its response to the shooting, per Lee.
Before the incident, Abe was heavily involved in campaigning for candidates and was seen making speeches and meeting crowds of people while touring various prefectures. A large gathering of his supporters had turned up in Hyogo to see him speak on Thursday.
—安倍晋三 (@AbeShinzo) July 7, 2022
Abe was also meant to travel to the nearby city of Kyoto to stump for Akira Yoshii, a former Kyoto City assemblyman, at a street campaign event scheduled for 12.30 p.m. local time on Friday.
The Japanese government has not made a formal announcement on the matter. The Japanese Prime Minister’s press office and the Nara prefectural police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Abe, 67, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and was in office from 2006 to 2007, and again from 2012 to 2020. He resigned in 2020 citing health issues, making way for his successor, Yoshihide Suga.
Japan is known to have almost completely eliminated gun deaths. It has a population of 127 million people and annual gun deaths rarely total more than 10.
Political assassinations in Japan are also exceedingly uncommon. In October 1960, the then-chairman of the Japan Socialist party, Inejiro Asanuma, was killed after being stabbed with a wakizashi, a Japanese short sword. The last known assassination of a Japanese leader took place in 1932 when then-Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi was shot and killed by a group of young Naval officers.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.