Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving leader, was in grave condition on Friday after being shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election, with media saying a man opened fire with an apparently homemade gun.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the shooting in the western city of Nara in the “strongest terms” while Japanese people and world leaders expressed shock at the assassination attempt in a country in which political violence is rare and guns are tightly controlled.
Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Kishida said Abe, 67, was in grave condition.
“Everything that can be done is being done to revive him. I’m praying from the depths of my heart that his life will be saved,” Kishida told reporters, adding he was not aware of any motive.
“This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and is absolutely unforgivable.”
A fire department official said earlier that Abe appeared to be in a state of cardiac arrest when airlifted to hospital.
Police said a 41-year-old man suspected of carrying out the shooting had been arrested. NHK quoted the suspect, identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, as telling police he was dissatisfied with Abe and wanted to kill him.
Abe was making a campaign speech outside a train station when two shots rang out at about 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT). Security officials were then seen tackling a man in a grey T-shirt and beige trousers.