TOKYO/ NEW DELHI: Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot, and apparently wounded, while delivering a speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections, according to NHK, the public broadcaster.
The campaign event was in the city of Nara in western Japan. Abe was delivering a stump speech when the apparent sound of gunshots was heard, NHK and Kyodo news agency reported.
The 67-year-old collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, according to the reports. Neither his ruling Liberal Democratic Party nor local police was able to immediately confirm the reports.
NHK and Kyodo both reported that Abe was taken to hospital and appeared to be in cardo-respiratory arrest – a term used in Japan indicating no vital signs, and generally preceding a formal certification of death by a coroner.
Japanese media reported that Abe appeared to have been shot from behind. NHK also reported that a suspect had been apprehended, though there were no immediate further details.
Abe is Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister. He first held the office in 2006 for a year before resigning from 2012 to 2020.
In India, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Abe’s love and affection for the country are still part of daily conversations. His Ganga Aarti with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still talked about.
PM Modi also made it a point to meet Abe during his visit to Japan’s capital Tokyo for the Quad Summit in May this year. PM Modi had gifted Pattumadai silk mats to the former PM with whom he shared a great rapport.
Abe has visited India thrice – in January 2014, December 2015 and September 2017 – the most by any Japanese PM.