TOKYO — Japanese former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot on Friday while campaigning in the city of Nara, a government spokesman said, with public broadcaster NHK saying he appeared to have been shot from behind by a man with a shotgun.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said he did not know Abe’s condition. Kyodo news agency and NHK said Abe, 67, appeared to be in a state of cardiac arrest when taken to hospital.
Shots were heard and a white puff of smoke was seen as Abe made a stump speech for a Sunday upper house election outside a train station in the western city, NHK said.
An NHK reporter on the scene said they could hear two consecutive bangs during Abe’s speech.
Matsuno, told a briefing Abe had been shot at about 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT), adding, “Such an act of barbarity cannot be tolerated.”
TBS Television reported that Abe had been shot on the left side of his chest and apparently also in the neck.
Abe served two terms as prime minister to become Japan’s longest-serving premier before stepping down in 2020 citing ill health.
But he has remained a dominant presence over the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) party, controlling one of its major factions.
His protege, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, goes into an upper house election on Sunday hoping, analysts say, to emerge from Abe’s shadow and define his premiership.
Kishida suspended his election campaign after Abe’s shooting and was returning to Tokyo, media reported. — Agencies