Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe dies in hospital after shooting

Abe, 67, was shot mid-speech in the city of Nara. Israeli PM Lapid issued his condolences soon thereafter, saying Abe was "a friend of Israel."

 Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe lies on the ground after apparent shooting during an election campaign for the July 10, 2022 Upper House election, in Nara, western Japan July 8, 2022.  (photo credit: KYODO VIA REUTERS)
Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe lies on the ground after apparent shooting during an election campaign for the July 10, 2022 Upper House election, in Nara, western Japan July 8, 2022.
(photo credit: KYODO VIA REUTERS)

The suspect in the assassination of Japanese former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has admitted to the shooting, Nara police stated on Friday afternoon.

According to the police statement reported by Reuters, security forces are investigating whether security was sufficient at the event where the politician was shot and will take appropriate action. They added that they cannot specify exactly what the motivation of the shooter was.

Japanese former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday.

Abe, 67, had been delivering a stump speech near a train station in the western city of Nara when he was shot by an assailant.

Shots were heard and a white puff of smoke was seen as Abe made a stump speech for a Sunday upper house election outside a train station in the western city, NHK said.

An NHK reporter on the scene said they could hear two consecutive bangs during Abe's speech.

Matsuno, told a briefing Abe had been shot at about 11:30 a.m., adding, "Such an act of barbarity cannot be tolerated."

"Such an act of barbarity cannot be tolerated."

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno
 An aerial view shows the site where former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was apparently shot during an election campaign for the July 10, 2022 Upper House election, in Nara, western Japan July 8, 2022.  (credit: KYODO VIA REUTERS) An aerial view shows the site where former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was apparently shot during an election campaign for the July 10, 2022 Upper House election, in Nara, western Japan July 8, 2022. (credit: KYODO VIA REUTERS)

TBS Television reported that Abe had been shot on the left side of his chest and apparently also in the neck.

International response

"In the name of the state and people of Israel, I'm sending my condolences to Japan on the tragic death" of Abe, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid wrote. "Abe was one of Japan's most important leaders in modern times, a friend of Israel that brought about a stronger relationship between the two.

"This heinous assassination will not cut short the wonderful legacy of his life. Israel bows its head," he concluded.  

President Isaac Herzog said he was "horrified by the despicable murder of Shinzo Abe, one of Japan's most preeminent leaders in modern times. We met when I chaired Israel's Opposition and I was deeply impressed by his leadership, vision and respect for Israel. Grieving with his family and the whole Japanese people."

 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe poses with an Akita Inu puppy presented to Russian figure skating gold medallist Alina Zagitova, in Moscow, Russia May 26, 2018.  (credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe poses with an Akita Inu puppy presented to Russian figure skating gold medallist Alina Zagitova, in Moscow, Russia May 26, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)

"In the name of the state and people of Israel, I'm sending my condolences to Japan on the tragic death"

Prime Minister Yair Lapid

"The bullets that killed Abe also hit freedom of expression and our democratic system as a whole. As the speaker of the Israeli legislature, I am concerned and shocked that an election campaign deteriorates into such tragic and terrible violence," said Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid), extending his condolences. 

Before the news of his death broke, Israel's ambassador to Japan, Gilad Cohen, expressed his dismay at the shooting, tweeting: "I am absolutely shocked by the news. Being one of the most prominent leaders of Japan, Abe-san was amongst the architects of modern relations between Israel & Japan, serving as a major catalyzer for the flourishing ties we see today. We are all praying for his health."

New Hope MK Zvi Hauser, who serves as CEO of the Friendship Society and Chamber of Commerce Israel—Japan gave his condolences: "Abe did and could have done so much more to Japan and the free world. The loss is massive.

"Israel today lost a true friend. His efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries will not be forgotten. May his memory be a blessing," he tweeted.

US President Joe Biden expressed outrage at the fatal shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday, calling him a champion of the US-Japan alliance who cared deeply about the Japanese people and democracy.

"I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning. This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him," Biden said in a statement.

"Even at the moment he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy."

Who is Japanese former prime minister Shinzo Abe?

Abe served two terms as prime minister to become Japan's longest-serving premier before stepping down in 2020 citing ill health.

But he has remained a dominant presence over the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) party, controlling one of its major factions.

His protege, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, goes into an upper house election on Sunday hoping, analysts say, to emerge from Abe's shadow and define his premiership.

Kishida suspended his election campaign after Abe's shooting and was returning to Tokyo, media reported.

The ambassador of the United States, Rahm Emanuel, said he was saddened and shocked by the shooting of an outstanding leader and unwavering ally. The US government and people were praying for Abe's well-being, he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded to the news of the assassination, calling it "shocking" and "profoundly disturbing," describing him as a leader of great vision and an extraordinary partner for the United States.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday expressed "outrage and sadness" over the assassination of Japanese former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and said he had ordered three days of national mourning in Brazil.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian also condemned the assassination of Abe, whose "valuable services in...the development of relations between Iran and Japan" will not be forgotten, he wrote on Twitter.

Abe has been best known for his signature “Abenomics” policy featured bold monetary easing and fiscal spending.

He also bolstered defense spending after years of declines and expanded the military’s ability to project power abroad.

In a historic shift in 2014, his government reinterpreted the postwar, pacifist constitution to allow troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War II.

The following year, legislation ended a ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense or defending a friendly country under attack.

Abe, however, did not achieve his long-held goal of revising the US-drafted constitution by writing the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan’s military is known, into the pacifist Article 9.

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

Abe first took office in 2006 as Japan’s youngest prime minister since World War Two. After a year plagued by political scandals, voter outrage at lost pension records, and an election drubbing for his ruling party, Abe quit citing ill health.

He became prime minister again in 2012.

Abe hails from a wealthy political family that included a foreign minister father and a great-uncle who served as premier.