Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died on Friday after being shot during a campaign speech, officials said. He was 67.
The big picture: Abe, who was most recently in office from December 2012 to September 2020, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He resigned in 2020 for health reasons but remained influential in politics.
What happened: Abe was shot while giving a campaign speech in the city of Nara ahead of Sunday’s elections for the parliament’s upper house, NHK reported.
- He was rushed to the hospital, but showed no vital signs, per NHK. He sustained two gunshot wounds, and died shortly after 5 pm local time, health officials said a press conference.
- A man in his 40s was taken into custody.
- Shootings are extremely rare in Japan — a country with some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the world.
What they’re saying: This act “is barbaric and malicious and cannot be tolerated,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said earlier Friday.
- “This is not a forgivable act,” Kishida said, adding that authorities will “take appropriate measures to handle the situation.”
Background: Abe rose to prominence in national politics in the early 2000s, per the New York Times.
- He first became prime minister in 2006, but abruptly resigned a year later after several political scandals.
- Abe returned for a second stint as premier in 2012, vowing to revive the economy and amend the country’s pacifist Constitution — a goal he failed to accomplish due to poor public support.
- The end of his tenure saw strong ties with the U.S., particularly former President Trump.
- By the time he announced he was stepping down in 2020, citing ongoing health issues with ulcerative colitis, his popularity had declined over his handling of the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of political scandals, per the Times.
- His more than seven years in office offered a rare steady hand at the top of Japanese politics. The country had been known for its frequent prime ministerial turnover before he took office in 2012.