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Ex-leader Shinzo Abe fatally shot in shock Japan attack – Press Telegram

By MARI YAMAGUCHI, CHISATO TANAKA and FOSTER KLUG

NARA, Japan (AP) – Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, an arch-conservative and one of his nation’s most powerful and influential figures, has died after being shot during a campaign speech on Friday in western Japan, according to public television NHK.

Abe, 67, was shot from behind minutes after he began his speech in Nara. He was flown to a hospital for emergency treatment, but was not breathing and his heart stopped. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, NHK said.

Police have arrested the alleged gunman at the scene of an attack that shocked many in Japan, which is one of the safest nations in the world and has some of the strictest gun control laws.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his cabinet ministers hastily returned to Tokyo from campaign events across the country after the shooting, which he described as “cowardly and barbaric”.

Abe was the longest-serving Japanese leader before leaving office in 2020.

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

The next moment, the security guards jump on a gray-shirted man lying face down on the pavement. A double-barreled device is seen on the ground that appeared to be a handmade weapon.

Nara prefecture police have confirmed the arrest of Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, on suspicion of attempted murder. NHK reported that the suspect served in the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years in the 2000s.

Other videos of the scene showed campaign officials around Abe. The former leader was still very influential in the Liberal Democratic Party government and led his largest faction, Seiwakai. Elections for the Upper House of Japan, the least powerful chamber in its parliament, are on Sunday.

“I use the harshest words to condemn (the act),” Kishida said as he struggled to control his emotions. He said the government planned to review the security situation, but added that Abe had maximum protection.

Opposition leaders condemned the attack as a challenge to Japan’s democracy. In Tokyo, people stopped on the street to grab extra editions of newspapers or watch coverage of the shooting on television.

When he resigned as prime minister, Abe said he had a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis he had since he was a teenager.

He told reporters at the time that it was “heartbreaking” to leave many of his goals unfinished. He spoke of his failure to solve the problem of the Japanese kidnapped years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia and a revision of the Japanese constitution renouncing war.

That last goal was the big reason why he was such a divisive figure.

His ultranationalism irritated Korea and China, and his drive to create what he saw as a more normal defensive stance angered many Japanese. Abe failed to achieve his precious goal of formally rewriting the pacifist constitution drafted by the United States because of scant public support.

Loyalists said his legacy was a stronger relationship between the United States and Japan that was intended to strengthen Japan’s defense capability. But Abe became enemies by forcing his defense targets and other controversial issues through parliament, despite strong public opposition.

Abe was a blood blue politician who was ready to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric used to focus on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military and a more important role in international affairs.

Many foreign officials expressed their shock at the shooting.

Abe said he was proud to work while leading a stronger security alliance between Japan and the US. It also helped Tokyo get the right to host the 2020 Olympics by promising that a disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was “under control” when it was not.

Abe became Japan’s youngest prime minister in 2006, at the age of 52, but his first overly nationalist term ended abruptly a year later, also due to his health.

The end of Abe’s first period laden with scandals as prime minister was the start of six years of annual leadership change, remembered as an era of “revolving door” politics that lacked stability and long-term policies.

When he returned to office in 2012, Abe promised to revitalize the nation and get its economy out of deflationary stagnation with its “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.

He won six national elections and built solid control over power, strengthening the role and defense capability of Japan and its security alliance with the United States. It has also intensified patriotic education in schools and raised Japan’s international profile.

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Ex-leader Shinzo Abe fatally shot in shock Japan attack – Press Telegram Source link Ex-leader Shinzo Abe fatally shot in shock Japan attack – Press Telegram

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