Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died in hospital after being shot during a political campaign rally, according to local media.
Mr. Abe was shot twice on Friday morning while giving a speech in the southern city of Nara.
He immediately collapsed and was taken to the nearest hospital. Photos taken at the scene showed he was bleeding.
Security officers at the scene attacked the shooter and the 41-year-old suspect is currently in police custody. In an emotional press conference earlier, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the attack, saying, “It is barbaric and evil and cannot be tolerated.”
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency had previously confirmed that Mr. Abe had a gunshot wound on the right side of his neck and was also suffering from a subcutaneous hemorrhage under his left chest.
It is unclear whether both shots hit him, or if a bullet hit him in the neck and he traveled elsewhere.
Mr. Abe was said to be conscious and responsive in the minutes following the attack, but the 67-year-old’s situation subsequently worsened and he is said to have had to receive a blood transfusion at the hospital.
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Mr. Abe was making a stupid speech to a political candidate in Nara at a crossroads when the attack happened.
Eyewitnesses said they saw a man carrying what he claimed was a large gun and shooting Mr. Abe twice from behind. Security guards arrested the assailant, who did not attempt to escape and confiscated his weapon, which was reportedly a hand-made pistol.
The suspect was identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a native of Nara. According to local media reports, he is believed to be a former member of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Japanese equivalent of a navy.
Abe’s speech was part of a campaign for his former party, the Liberal Democratic Party, as Japan’s upper house elections take place later this week.
According to local reports, ministers across the country were then told to return to Tokyo immediately. On Japanese social media, the hashtag “We want democracy, not violence” was trending, with many social media users expressing their horror and disgust at the incident