Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shot during election speech; remains gravely injured, unconscious

Update: The Guardian reports Shinzo Abe has just died in the hospital.

NARA, JAPAN – JULY 08: Security police tackle to arrest a suspect who is believed to shoot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of Yamatosaidaiji Station on July 8, 2022 in Nara, Japan. Abe is shot while making a street speech for upcoming Upper House election. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in heart failure after apparently being shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan, NHK public television said Friday.

The broadcaster aired footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running toward him. Abe was holding his chest when he collapsed, with his shirt smeared with blood. NHK says Abe was rushed to a hospital.

An aerial photo shows a man believed to be former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the stretcher at Nara Medical University Hospital in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture on July 8, 2022. Abe went on a stumping tour for supporting his party member in the House of Councillors Election.  67-year-old Abe has reportedly been shot in the chest and he has been in a state of cardio-respiratory arrest. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

The suspect in the shooting of Shinzo Abe on Friday used a gun that he appears to have made himself, according to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, citing police. 

The suspect, Yamagami Tetsuya, is a Nara resident in his 40s, NHK reported, citing police sources.

The man did not attempt to run away, NHK reported. He is being held for questioning at Nara Nishi police station.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots in the apparent attack in Nara. He was standing while making an election campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house.

Abe held office from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020 — making him the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister in history. He stepped down as Prime Minister in 2020 before the end of his term, citing health reasons.

CNN and Politico