Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, falls on the ground in Nara, western Japan Friday, July 8, 2022. Abe was in heart failure after apparently being shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan, NHK public television said Friday. (Kyodo News via AP)

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and suffered apparent heart failure while campaigning shortly before noon Friday in Nara according to NHK. Abe was rushed to the Nara Medical University Hospital via helicopter soon after. Abe was reportedly responsive on his way to the hospital. Local fire department officials later reported that Abe suffered “cardiopulmonary arrest.”

Witnesses reported hearing two gun shots on Friday around 11:30 a.m. . The suspect allegedly approached Abe from behind before firing two shots into the former Prime Minister’s back. Abe clutched his chest as he collapsed. Abe’s condition is currently unknown, but emergency officials have reported that Former Prime Minister Abe is showing no vital signs.

The suspect has been apprehended. According to NHK, the suspect has been identified as Yamagami Testuya, 41. Yamagami, a Nara City resident, was found with a handmade firearm when arrested. Yamagami is being currently being charged with attempted murder according to local authorities. Yamagami made no attempts to escape after shooting Abe. It has been reported that the firearm used to shoot Abe may have been handmade by the suspect.

According to Japanese Defense Ministry, Yamagami had been part of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces from 2002-2005. Yamagami reportedly told officers that he was “frustrated with Former Prime Minister Abe and shot him with the intent to kill him.”

Image of the alleged homemade firearm. Screenshot taken from NHK World-Japan on Youtube.com

Abe was in Nara to campaign prior to the upcoming parliamentary elections. The campaign rally had started at 11:30a.m.. According to an NHK pundit, “the shooting is already sending shockwaves through the political world.” Abe had resigned from the Prime Minister position due to illness in 2020.

Japan’s outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media as he arrives at the prime minister’s office for a cabinet meeting in Tokyo on Sept. 16, 2020.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

Masuda Tsuyoshi, NHK World Senior Political Commentator, shared details of the political ramifications of the shooting. According to Tsuyoshi, members of the Liberal Democratic Party are currently gathering information before deciding what action to take. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, condemned the shooting as “barbaric, malicious, and totally intolerable.” An unnamed political opponent of the LDP condemned the shooting as “an attack on Democracy.”

A female witness provided their account of the events, “Mr. Abe was delivering his speech when a man approached him from behind. After the second shot, we saw gunpowder and a lot of white smoke. After the second shot, Mr. Abe collapsed. He [the suspect] was wearing a grey t-shirt and coffee colored pants. He wasn’t attempting to run away, he was just standing there.”

Rafu Shimpo will update with more details as they arrive.

By BHIT YOON

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