Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe confirmed dead

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has been confirmed dead after he was shot at a campaign event on Friday, public broadcaster NHK and Jiji news agency reported.

“According to a senior LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) official, former prime minister Abe died at a hospital in Kashihara city, Nara region, where he was receiving medical treatment. He was 67,” NHK said.

Abe was shot from behind minutes after he started his speech Friday in Nara in western Japan. He was airlifted to a hospital for emergency treatment but was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.

The 67-year-old Abe was Japan’s longest-serving leader before stepping down for health reasons in 2020.

Police arrested the suspected gunman, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, at the scene of the attack, which shocked people in a country known as one of the world’s safest. Public broadcaster NHK reported that the suspect served in the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years in the 2000s.

NHK aired a dramatic video of Abe giving a speech outside a train station in the western city of Nara. He was standing, dressed in a navy-blue suit, raising his fist, when two gunshots are heard. The video then shows Abe collapsed on the street, with security guards running toward him. He holds his chest, his shirt smeared with blood.

In the next moment, security guards leap on top of a man in gray shirt who lied face down on the pavement. A double-barreled device that appeared to be a handmade gun is seen on the ground.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, along with other world leaders, expressed his condolences, while praising him for strengthening relations between Thailand and Japan.

Describing the former Japanese prime minister as a knowledgeable, talented person and much loved by the Japanese people, Government Spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana stated that the prime minister is saddened by his death.

He said that, during his time as the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe played a huge role in strengthening relations between Thailand and Japan, while mentioning his visit to Thailand in 2013, when he set a strong foundation for bilateral relations. He also promoted the relationship between Japan and ASEAN over the past few years.

Having joined the world in condemning the assassination as a “heinous act of violence”, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement today that Mr. Abe will be fondly remembered “for being a true friend of Thailand, who was committed to nurturing the warm ties of friendship and cooperation between Thailand and Japan in all dimensions.”

AP, AFP, Thai PBS World



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