FORMER Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is unresponsive and fighting for his life after being brutally shot in the chest during a bloody assassination attempt on Friday.
National broadcaster NHK aired footage showing Abe, 67, collapsing on the street in Nara, Japan, clutching his blood-smeared chest as several security guards ran toward him.
Shinzo Abe was seen holding his chest after reportedly suffering two gunshot wounds – one to the chest and one to the neck – that left him bloodied on the ground.
The former prime minister was not breathing and his heart had stopped, NHK quoted firefighters as saying.
As first responders rushed to save Abe’s life, police captured Yamagami Tetsuya, 41, for the alleged attempted murder, according to NHK.
Fuji TV reports that the suspect is an ex-Japanese military native of Nara city, and was formerly a member of the Maritime Self-Defence Force, the country’s equivalent of a navy, for three years until 2005.
He was pictured carrying a large homemade weapon, according to police.
Close-ups of the gun appear to show two pipes strapped to a piece of wood.
Fumio Kishida, Abe’s replacement as prime minister, was rushed to his office by helicopter for emergency talks with officials.
Addressing the media, he said Shinzo Abe is in a critical condition, describing the shooting as a “heinous act”.
“Currently doctors are doing everything they can at this moment,” he said. “I am hoping and praying that former prime minister Abe will survive this.”
He added that the reasons for the “barbaric” shooting were not clear at this moment.
Abe was giving a speech at a campaign event ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house when the shots rang out.
His security team were around him, but the gunman was able to draw his weapon and shoot the former statesman at close range “without being checked”.
A video from BNO News showed bystanders rushing to help the former prime minister after he was shot at around 11.30am local time (3.30am BST).
Abe’s scheduled speech was publicised on Thursday evening.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said of the arrest: “A barbaric act like this is absolutely unforgivable, no matter what the reasons are, and we condemn it strongly.”
Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in developed nations, so shootings are rare.
Boris Johnson was among those to express their shock at the events in Japan.
“Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe,” he tweeted. “My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
Former US president Donald Trump also responded to the news, describing Abe as “a truly great man” and “a true friend of mine” on his social media platform ‘Truth Social’.
The US ambassador to Japan wrote a heartbreaking tribute to the ex-prime minister.
“We are all saddened and shocked by the shooting of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo,” said Rahm Emanuel.
“Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and unwavering ally of the US the US Government and American people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, & people of Japan.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke of his horror at the attempted assassination.
“Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the people of Japan,” he said, speaking from the G20 summit in Bali.
“This is a very, very sad moment. And we’re awaiting news from Japan.”
To Read Daily News, click here