Former Japan PM Shinzo Abe seriously shot during speech, one in custody

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot during a speech in Nara, Japan. National broadcaster NHK says a man has been arrested on charges of attempt to murder and a gun has been confiscated. The network and the Kyodo news agency said Abe, 67, appeared to be in a state of cardiac arrest. NHK said shots were heard and a white plume of smoke was seen when Abe gave a campaign stump speech outside a train station. Officials said he was taken to the hospital but he was not breathing and his heart had stopped. Local fire department official Makoto Morimoto said Abe was in cardio and pulmonary arrest after being shot and was taken to a prefectural hospital.

An NHK reporter present at the scene said that during Abe’s speech he heard two consecutive explosions. The Chief Cabinet Secretary will brief the media at 0400 GMT.

Who was Shinzo Abe?

Abe served two terms as prime minister, becoming Japan’s longest-serving prime minister before stepping down in 2020, citing poor health.

But he continues to dominate the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) party, which controls a major faction.

His mentor, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, faces an Upper House election on Sunday in which analysts say he is expected to emerge from Abe’s shadow and define his premiership.

Abe is best known for his signature “Abenomics” policy, which includes bold monetary easing and fiscal spending.

He also increased defense spending after years of decline and expanded the military’s ability to project power overseas.

In a landmark change in 2014, his government reinterpreted the post-war, pacifist constitution to allow soldiers to fight overseas for the first time since World War II.

The following year, the law ended the ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense or defending an Allied country under attack.

However, Abe did not achieve his long-held goal of revising the US-draft constitution by writing the Self-Defense Forces to Japan’s military in pacifist Article 9.

He was instrumental in winning the 2020 Olympics for Tokyo, cherishing the desire to preside over the Games, which were postponed by a year to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abe first took office in 2006 as Japan’s youngest prime minister since World War II. After a year plagued by political scandals, voter outrage over losing pension records, and an electoral defeat for his ruling party, Abe quit, citing ill health.

He became Prime Minister again in 2012. Abe comes from a wealthy political family, which included a foreign minister father and a great-uncle who served as prime minister.

(with inputs from Reuters)