Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot whilst giving a speech at a political campaign event.
The 67-year-old, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot in the city of Nara on Friday morning. Abe sustained two bullet wounds to his neck in the attack, and also suffered damage to his heart according to doctors.
The former politician appeared to be responsive in the immediate aftermath of the attack, but his condition quickly deteriorated. Doctors could detect no vital signs on arrival at the hospital, and Abe was pronounced dead a 5.03pm local time.
Security officials detained the gunman at the scene, and the 41-year-old is in police custody. Investigators are yet to reveal a motive for the attack but it is believed to be politically motivated, having taken place just two days before elections for Japan’s Upper House.
Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida led the tributes to Abe, which poured in from all sides of the political divide.
“I’m deeply saddened and lost for words,” a visibly emotional Kishida said. “We lost a great leader who loved the nation, looked to the future and made great achievements in various fields for the future of this country.”
“We must defend free and just elections, which are at the root of democracy. I will say this to the people until the very last moment of the campaign,” he said, a message echoed by many in their statements.
Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and incidents like this are incredibly rare. Authorities are still investigating how the suspect came to be in possession of a firearm.