Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot in the chest while giving a speech and is showing no vital signs after being attacked from behind.
The former Prime Minister, 67, was in heart failure after being shot, NHK public television said Friday.
The broadcaster aired footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running toward him. Abe was holding his chest when he collapsed, with his shirt smeared with blood. NHK says Abe was rushed to a hospital.
Witnesses reported hearing gunshots in the apparent attack in Nara. He was standing while making an election campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house.
Police arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder and confiscated the gun at the scene, NHK reported.
The former leader had been delivering a stump speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections when the apparent sound of gunshots was heard, NHK and the Kyodo news agency said.
‘He was giving a speech and a man came from behind,’ a young woman at the scene told NHK.
‘The first shot sounded like a toy. He didn’t fall and there was a large bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and smoke,’ she added.
‘After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him cardiac massage.’
Several media outlets reported that he appeared to have been shot from behind, possibly with a shotgun.
The government said a task force had been formed in the wake of the incident and the top government spokesman was expected to speak shortly.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020, when he was forced to step down due to the debilitating bowel condition ulcerative colitis.
Japan has some of the world’s toughest gun-control laws, and annual deaths from firearms in the country of 125 million people are regularly in single figures.
Getting a gun license is a long and complicated process even for Japanese citizens, who must first get a recommendation from a shooting association and then undergo strict police checks.