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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated during a campaign stop in the city of Nara on Friday by a gunman who shot him from behind as he gave a speech. Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister until he stepped down in 2020. He was widely viewed as a nationalist and anti-communist whose policy often challenged China and its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Associated Press reported Abe suffered major damage to his heart as well as two neck wounds. He was not breathing and his heart had stopped while he was airlifted to a nearby hospital. Abe was ultimately pronounced dead after massive blood transfusions and other efforts failed to restore his vital signs.
During Abe’s tenure as prime minister, he helped establish the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the U.S., Australia and India. The group, also known as “the Quad” was focused on countering China’s growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
WION news reported Abe’s assassination received praise from Chinese social media users, including some who hailed the assassin as a hero.
The assassination was caught on multiple videos.
The shooting suspect was arrested at the scene and photographed being apprehended by a security team.
The suspect was identified as 41-year-old Yamagami Tetsuya, Japan Times reported. Yamagami previously served as an officer in Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force. In 2020, Yamagami started working at a manufacturing company in the Osaka prefecture but reportedly quit his job in April after reporting feeling “tired.”
While Japan has relatively strict gun laws, the suspect appeared to circumvent any potential restrictions by using a homemade weapon.
Photos from the attack show what appears to be a pair of barrels crudely taped to a board with some kind of battery connection running from the bottom of the device to the back of the two barrels. The battery could be part of a crude electric primer to set off the projectiles.
“I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning,” President Biden said on Friday. “This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him. I had the privilege to work closely with Prime Minister Abe. As Vice President, I visited him in Tokyo and welcomed him to Washington. He was a champion of the Alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people.”
Former President Donald Trump said, “He was a unifier like no other, but above all, he was a man who loved and cherished his magnificent country, Japan. Shinzo Abe will be greatly missed. There will never be another like him!”
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), said, “He was not only the most consequential Japanese leader in decades, but also a dedicated anti-communist who saw the current nature of geopolitical competition clearly. America mourns for his family and for our friends in Japan, and prays that the coward who shot him will be swiftly brought to justice.”