Tokyo (AFP), Jul 8 – Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot at a campaign event on Friday, a government spokesman said, as local media reported the nation’s longest-serving premier was showing no vital signs.
“Former prime minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am,” in the country’s western region of Nara, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
“One man, believed to be the shooter, has been taken into custody. The condition of former prime minister Abe is currently unknown.”
“Whatever the reason, such a barbaric act can never be tolerated, and we strongly condemn it,” Matsuno added.
Local media including national broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo news agency said Abe appeared to be in “cardiorespiratory arrest”, a term often used in Japan before a feared death can be officially confirmed by a coroner.
The attack on a man who may be Japan’s best-known politician comes despite the country’s famously low levels of violent crime and tough gun laws, and with politicians campaigning ahead of upper house elections on Sunday.
Abe, 67, had been delivering a stump speech with security present, but spectators were able to approach him fairly easily.
Footage broadcast by NHK showed him standing on a stage when a loud blast was heard with smoke visible in the air.