Ex-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dies at 67 after campaign shooting

Shinzo Abe, Japan's former leader, died at the age of 67 Friday after being shot during a campaign speech in western Japan, hospital officials confirmed. Japan's NHK Television earlier reported Abe's death. It was a shocking attack in a country that has some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere.

Abe was shot from behind minutes after he started his speech Friday in Nara in western Japan. Local fire department official Makoto Morimoto said Abe was in cardio and pulmonary arrest after being shot. His heart stopped while he was being airlifted to a hospital, Morimoto said. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.

Police arrested a male suspect at the scene of the shooting in Nara, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. According to NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested.

Ministry of Defense officials said Yamagami worked for the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years until around 2005, NHK reported. The suspect said he was dissatisfied with and aimed to kill Abe in a police statement, NHK said, citing police authorities.

The shooting was "barbaric, and malicious, and it cannot be tolerated," Kishida said. "We will do everything we can. I would like to use the most extreme words available to condemn this act."

NHK aired footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running toward him, He was bleeding and holding his chest.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots in the apparent attack in Nara. Abe was standing while making an election campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament's upper house.

Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Prospective owners must undergo formal instruction as well as written, mental, and drug tests and a rigorous background check.

Abe came into office as Japan's prime minister in December 2012 and announced his resignation in August 2020 after a chronic illness resurfaced.

When he returned to office for the second time in 2012, Abe vowed to revitalize the nation and get its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his "Abenomics" formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, and structural reforms.