Japan ex-prime minister Abe shot, taken to hospital – NHK

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission.

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has been taken to hospital after being shot while delivering a speech in the city of Nara in western Japan, a government spokesman has confirmed.

Japanese former Shinzo Abe speaks for his party member candidate of the House of Councillors Election near Yamato Saidaiji Station in Nara Prefecture on July 8, 2022, just seconds before he is shot.

Japanese former Shinzo Abe speaks, just seconds before he is shot. Photo: AFP

Public broadcaster NHK says he appeared to have been shot from behind by a man with a shotgun.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said he did not know Abe’s condition. Kyodo news agency and NHK said Abe, 67, appeared to be in a state of cardiac arrest when taken to hospital.

Shots were heard and a white puff of smoke was seen as Abe made a stump speech for a Sunday upper house election outside a train station in the western city, NHK said.

A man suspected of shooting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Yamato Saidaiji Station in Nara Prefecture on July 8, 2022 is wrestled to the ground.  67-year-old Abe has reportedly been shot in the chest during a stumping tour in Nara in the morning on July 8.

A man suspected of shooting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is wrestled to the ground. Photo: AFP

An NHK reporter on the scene said they could hear two consecutive bangs during Abe’s speech.

Matsuno, told a briefing Abe had been shot at about 11:30 am local time, adding, “Such an act of barbarity cannot be tolerated.”

TBS Television reported that Abe had been shot on the left side of his chest and apparently also in the neck.

Abe served two terms as prime minister to become Japan’s longest-serving premier before stepping down in 2020 citing ill health.

But he has remained a dominant presence over the ruling Liberal Democratic party, controlling one of its major factions.

An aerial photo shows the site that former prime minister Shinzo Abe been shot in Nara City, Nara Prefecture on July 8, 2022.

An aerial photo shows the site that former prime minister Shinzo Abe been shot in Nara City. Photo: AFP

His protege, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, faces an upper house election on Sunday in which analysts say he hopes to emerge from Abe’s shadow and define his premiership.

Abe has been best known for his signature ‘Abenomics’ policy featured bold monetary easing and fiscal spending.

He also bolstered defence spending after years of declines and expanded the military’s ability to project power abroad.

In a historic shift in 2014, his government reinterpreted the postwar, pacifist constitution to allow troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War Two.

The following year, legislation ended a ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence, or defending a friendly country under attack.

Abe, however, did not achieve his long-held goal of revising the U.S.-drafted constitution by writing the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan’s military in known, into the pacifist Article 9.

He was instrumental in winning the 2020 Olympics for Tokyo, cherishing a wish to preside over the Games, which were postponed by a year to 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Abe first took office in 2006 as Japan’s youngest prime minister since World War Two. After a year plagued by political scandals, voter outrage at lost pension records, and an election drubbing for his ruling party, Abe quit citing ill health.

He became prime minister again in 2012.

Abe hails from a wealthy political family that included a foreign minister father and a great-uncle who served as premier.

…more to come

– Reuters

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