TOKYO – Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of Japan, was in critical condition after being shot on Friday morning while giving a speech in western Japan, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Footage on social media showed Mr. Abe, 67, collapsed and bleeding on the ground in the city of Nara near Kyoto. The Japanese Fire and Disaster Management Agency said that Mr. Abe had sustained a gunshot wound to his right neck and left chest.
The police said they had arrested a suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami in his 40s on a charge of attempted murder. The suspect had used “gunlike equipment,” which was retrieved at the scene, a police spokesman said.
Images shared on social media showed a man being tackled after the shooting near Yamatosaidaiji Station. The man was a Nara resident, according to NHK, the public broadcaster. A detailed motive for the shooting was not immediately made public.
Mr. Kishida, who had been on the campaign trail in Yamagata Prefecture and returned to Tokyo after the shooting, said at a news briefing that the attack had been a “heinous act,” adding, “It is barbaric and malicious, and it cannot be tolerated. . ”
He added: “Currently, doctors are doing everything they can. At this moment, I am hoping and praying that former PM Abe will survive this. “
Seigo Yasuhara, an official at the command center at the Nara Fire Department, said that after the shooting Mr. Abe had been under cardiopulmonary arrest and that he had been taken by an ambulance – unconscious and showing no vital signs – to a medical evacuation helicopter. He was then transported to Nara Medical University Hospital, the Nara Fire Department said.
Hirokazu Matsuno, chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Kishida, said a crisis management center had been set up in the prime minister’s office.
Mr. Abe was the country’s longest-serving prime minister and served two terms, from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020. He resigned in 2020 because of ill health.
The former prime minister was in Nara campaigning ahead of elections for the Upper House of Parliament scheduled for Sunday. Mr. Abe was giving a campaign speech on behalf of Kei Sato, 43, a current member of the Upper House running for re-election in Nara. He had been speaking for less than a minute when two loud explosive sounds were heard behind him around 11:30 am
Yoshio Ogita, 74, secretary general of Nara Prefecture’s Liberal Democratic chapter, was standing next to Mr. Abe. He said he heard two loud sounds and saw a plume of white smoke rising to the sky.
Mr. Abe toppled from a small 20-inch stand, where he had been perched so that he could rise above the crowd.
“I didn’t know what happened,” said Mr. Ogita said in a phone interview on Friday afternoon. “I saw him collapse.”