Update: Former Prime Minister Abe has been pronounced dead at Nara Medical University Hospital, to which he was helicoptered after being shot at 11:30 AM Japan time Friday.
According to reports from NHK, Japan’s state-owned semi-autonomous broadcaster, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is showing no vital signs 3 hours after being shot while delivering a campaign address. The 67-year-old former PM was standing on a sidewalk outside a train station in Nara (Japan’s ancient capital, south of Kyoto), speaking in support of his party’s incumbent candidate for a seat in that nation’s Upper House election this Sunday. Such speeches are very common in the 60-day period allowed for campaigning before an election in Japan.
Screengrab from NHK via YouTube showing Abe moments before being shot
No media source is reporting his death, but “no vital signs” sounds like hope is small or nonexistent.
The alleged perpetrator, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, is being reported by NHK, in broadcasts aired as this is being written, to have worked for Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force (its navy) for 3 years in the early 2000s. There is no indication as to his motives in attempting this assassination. Police report that the gun he used appears to be home made, since Japan has some of the strictest gun control measures in the world, and private ownership of handguns is extremely limited. There is, accordingly, almost no gun crime or violence there.
Abe has been a staunch ally of the US and Taiwan, and in his 2 terms as PM pushed Japan to expand its military budget and forces, gain permission to send them on overseas missions, and sought to revise the US-written postwar constitution that prohibits Japan from waging war or maintaining weapons mainly used for offense.
He is accordingly, a bête noire, to the Japanese and American left, as well as China. South Korea is not a fan of his efforts to deny that Korean “comfort women” were used as sexual slaves to service Japanese troops during the Japanese occupation of Korea and World War II. He is also the maternal grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960, after having served in the wartime cabinet of Hidekio Tojo, and suffering imprisonment as a Class A war criminal during the American Occupation. But Kishi was never charged with a war crime, and was released after 3 years, as the Occupation turned its attention away from punitive measures and toward rebuilding Japan as an anti-communist ally.