Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated on July 8 while campaigning in Nara.
The assassin used a homemade firearm to shoot Abe twice in the back. Abe was rushed to Nara Medical University Hospital, where first responders reported that Abe was responsive. After Abe’s arrival at the hospital, officials reported that he suffered “cardiopulmonary arrest.”
Abe was campaigning prior to the upcoming parliamentary elections when Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, approached him from behind and fired two shots. Abe reportedly clutched his chest before falling to the ground. Yamagami, a resident of Nara City, made no attempts to escape and was promptly apprehended by law enforcement.
Abe was the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history. He served from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. He resigned from his position due to illness, but remained the leader of the largest faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
During his second term as prime minister, Abe spearheaded an economic strategy referred to as “Abenomics,” which aimed to achieve a 2% inflation rate, provide an economic stimulus in the short term, and grow the economy through structural reform and private sector investment. Abe’s economic policies were considered moderately successful.
Abe’s supporters lauded him for bolstering Japan’s defense capability and improving U.S.-Japan relations, but his tenure as prime minister was divisive among Japanese citizens and populations abroad.
Abe was viewed as an ultra-conservative right-wing populist within the LDP. Some of his political opponents criticized his efforts to expand the Japanese military and referred to him as “reactionary.” He was also vilified abroad for his denial of government involvement in the coercion of comfort women during World War II.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had this to say about Abe following his resignation in 2020: “The United States deeply values the enduring contributions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in making the U.S.-Japan relationship the strongest it has ever been. He championed our alliance as a cornerstone of peace and security, and he advanced a free and open Indo-Pacific by working with the United States to build a network of partnerships across the region. We thank him for his many years of dedicated service…”
By BHIT YOON