Former prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has died after being shot twice while giving a speech on Friday, at a Liberal Democratic Party campaign in Nara, a city in the southern region of the country.

Abe, who spoke ahead of the upper house elections in Japan, collapsed after being hit, and was quickly rushed to a hospital. Seecurity operatives have now confirmed a 41-year-old suspect has been arrested. According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, Abe was struck on the right side of his neck, and suffered subcutaneous bleeding somewhere beneath the left part of his chest.

Minutes before Abe’s death, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a press conference; where he stated emotionally that Abe was in a ‘very grave condition’. He also spoke on the efforts made by doctors to save the former prime minister; and termed the assassination as barbaric and malicious.

Pictures taken during the assassination showed Shinzo Abe bleeding, but there were no confirmations on whether both bullets hit him. NHK, a media outlet however claimed Abe was ‘conscious and responsive’. Nonetheless, a further statement from same source put Abe’s condition as worrisome moments before he was confirmed dead. Efforts to save the 67-year-old led to him receiving a blood transfusion. This was according to a senior member of Shinzo Abe’s party.

Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of Japan, was giving a speech at a road junction in Nara on Friday, when two gunshots were fired at him. First hand information from those on scene purport the killer wielded a large gun and stood behind Abe. He was tackled down by security officials, even though he made no attempt to flee.

The shooter is Tetsuya Yamagami, a resident of Nara, and former member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force,

The incident comes as a surprise for many, as Japan is not known for gun or political violence. There are also stiff laws checking gun ownership in the Asian nation.

Shinzo Abe served as prime minister of Japan in 2006, before returning to office in 2012 and he held the position till 2020. Citing health issues—ulcerative colitis relapse, Abe stepped down from his prime minister role that year, becoming the longest serving prime minister of Japan.

During his time in office, Abe fought to amend the pacifist post-war constitution. He was also ardent on an economic policy centered on monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms.

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