Abe died from excessive bleeding and was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time, doctors at the Nara Medical University hospital said during a press conference on Friday. The doctors said the bullet that killed the former Japanese leader was “deep enough to reach his heart” and medical staff were unable to stop the bleeding.
Abe, 67, was the former Liberal Democratic Party leader and Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, holding office from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020, before resigning due to health reasons. Since stepping down, he remained in the public eye and regularly appeared in the media to discuss current affairs.
At the time of the shooting, Abe was delivering a speech in support of LDP candidates in Nara city ahead of the upcoming Upper House elections scheduled for Sunday.
Video aired by the public broadcaster captured the moments before to the shooting, showing Abe speaking to a small crowd in front of Yamatosaidaiji railway station. In subsequent videos, two shots can be heard and smoke can be seen in the air.
Photos of the scene show people gathered around the former leader as he lay in the street, with what appeared to be blood stains on his white shirt.
He was rushed to hospital via helicopter, where medics began frantic efforts to keep him alive. He was believed to have been shot twice, in the chest and neck, NHK reported, citing police.
An official from the Nara City Fire Department told CNN earlier on Friday that Abe was in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, a term used to describe the sudden loss of heart function and breathing.
A suspect, identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a local man in his 40s, was arrested and charged with attempted murder, according to NHK. It appears the suspect used a handmade gun in the attack, though the motive remains unclear. On Friday he was held for questioning at Nara Nishi police station, NHK reported.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a press conference on Friday that, “This is not a forgivable act,” adding that he would “take appropriate measures.”
This is a breaking story. More to come.
CNN’s Irene Nasser, Mayumi Maruyama, Jessie Yeung and Jake Kwon contributed reporting.