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Japan’s ex-PM feared dead after apparent shooting: local media

#Japans #exPM #feared #dead #apparent #shooting #local #media

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was feared dead on Friday after he was apparently shot dead at a campaign rally in the Nara region, local media reported.

National broadcaster NHK, citing police sources, said a man in his 40s had been arrested for attempted murder and a gun confiscated from him.

The former leader was making a brief speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections when gunfire appeared to be heard, NHK and Kyodo news agency said.

“He was giving a speech and a man came from behind,” a young woman at the scene told NHK.

“The first shot sounded like a toy. He didn’t fall and there was a big bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and the smoke,” she added.

“After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him cardiac massage.”

Abe, 67, collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party told Jiji News Agency.

Neither the LDP nor the local police could immediately confirm the reports.

Both NHK and Kyodo reported that Abe was hospitalized and appeared to be in respiratory arrest — a term used in Japan that indicates no vital signs and generally precedes a formal death certificate from a coroner.

Several media outlets reported that he was apparently shot at from behind, possibly with a shotgun.

The government said a task force had been formed after the incident and that the top government spokesman would speak shortly.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, served for a year in 2006 and again from 2012 to 2020 when he was forced to resign due to a debilitating bowel disease, ulcerative colitis.

Japan has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world, and annual firearm deaths in the country of 125 million people are regularly in the single digits.

Obtaining a gun license is a long and complicated process, even for Japanese citizens, who must first obtain a recommendation from a gun club and then undergo strict police checks.

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