TOKYO — Japan’s NHK television says former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot during a campaign speech.
Abe was shot from behind minutes after he started his speech Friday in Nara in western Japan. He was airlifted to a hospital for emergency treatment but was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.
The 67-year-old Abe was Japan’s longest-serving leader before stepping down for health reasons in 2020.
Police arrested the suspected gunman at the scene of the attack, which shocked people in a country known as one of the world’s safest.
Public broadcaster 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 gunshots are heard. The video then shows Abe collapsed on the street, with security guards running toward him. He holds his chest, his shirt smeared with blood.
In the next moment, security guards leap on top of a man in a gray shirt who lies face down on the pavement. A double-barreled device that appeared to be a handmade gun is seen on the ground.
Nara prefectural police 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.
NHK footage showed several police officers wearing helmets and body armor and carrying protective shields filing into a building identified by the broadcaster as the home of Yamagami.
Elections for Japan’s upper house, the less powerful chamber of its parliament, are slated for Sunday.