Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pronounced dead, the doctors treating him confirmed, after he was shot at an election campaign event in the city of Nara.
“Shinzo Abe was transported to [the hospital] at 12:20 pm. He was in a state of cardiac arrest upon arrival. Resuscitation was administered. However, unfortunately he died at 5:03pm,” Hidetada Fukushima, professor of emergency medicine at Nara Medical University hospital, told reporters on Friday.
Officials said Abe was shot while he was delivering a campaign speech on the street near a train station in Nara. Broadcaster NHK said its reporter on the scene heard a gun going off twice before Abe collapsed to the ground, clutching his chest and bleeding.
A 41-year-old male suspect was arrested at the scene. He reportedly used a “handmade” weapon.
Abe was flown to hospital by helicopter, but he was already showing no vital signs by the time he reached the facility, with bullet wounds to the neck and chest. One bullet appeared to have entered through his left shoulder.
Abe died of blood loss, despite being administered blood transfusions in large quantities, Fukushima said.
The former prime minister’s wife, Akie Abe, arrived at the hospital earlier on Friday afternoon and Fukushima said the family had been informed of Abe’s death.
Abe served as Japan’s prime minister from December 2012 to September 2020, making him the country’s longest serving prime minister.
Incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after the confirmation of Abe’s death that he was “lost for words”.
He had earlier abandoned the campaign trail and flew to the capital, Tokyo, by helicopter where in a quivering voice he condemned “a barbaric act during election campaigning, which is the foundation of democracy”.
“It is absolutely unforgivable. I condemn this act in the strongest terms.”