Japan’s longest-serving leader had been shot on the left side of his chest and also in the neck.
Doctors at a news conference said that Abe had died from excessive bleeding and that the bullet had penetrated far enough to reach his heart.
The suspected shooter, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was taken into custody on attempted murder charges and police recovered a gun from him, police and NHK reported. Yamagami served in the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the 2000s, according to local reports.
Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno confirmed the shooting and the arrest, but initially told reporters “the condition of former prime minister Abe is currently unknown.
“Whatever the reason, such a barbaric act can never be tolerated, and we strongly condemn it,” chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
NHK spoke to witnesses who said a man approached Abe from behind before at least two gunshots were heard.
“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 large bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and smoke,” the woman said.
“After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him cardiac massage.”
The gun used in the attack appeared to be homemade, NHK reported.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020.
He was forced to step down due to the debilitating bowel condition ulcerative colitis.
Former US President Donald Trump condemned Friday’s fatal attack as a “tremendous blow” to Japan.
“Absolutely devastating news that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, a truly great man and leader, has been shot, and is in very serious condition,” Trump said on his social media platform.
He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much. We are all praying for Shinzo and his beautiful family.”
Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe.
My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 8, 2022
NHK reports that suspect Tetsuya Yamagami arrested at the scene said he was "dissatisfied with former Prime Minister Abe and aimed to kill him," he said, "It is not a grudge against the former Prime Minister's political beliefs."https://t.co/q7vA3Sz2Iu
— Alistair Coleman (@alistaircoleman) July 8, 2022
Homebuilt gun confirmed. pic.twitter.com/UlGvFC9Y3K
— Brick Suit (@Brick_Suit) July 8, 2022