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Japan’s Former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, Assassinated During Campaign Speech

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Today (July 8), Shinzo Abe, former Japanese prime minister, was shot during a campaign speech on a public street in central Japan. The story was originally reported by the public broadcasting outlet NHK. The fatal attack happened in daylight with crowds of shocked onlookers watching nearby.

Reports say the Japanese leader then went into cardiopulmonary arrest at the scene before being rushed to a nearby hospital. Doctors from the Nara Medical University hospital confirmed that Abe died due to excessive bleeding and was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time, according to CNN. A staff of 20 medical professionals worked to stop the bleeding, but were unable to save the former prime minister as the bullet was “deep enough to reach his heart.”

The 67-year-old was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, but resigned from office after 2020 for health reasons. He remained active in discussing current affairs. Just before the shooting, he was said to be campaigning for the upcoming Upper House elections scheduled for Sunday. In video footage showing the moments just before the fatal attack, two shots are heard before smoke is seen.

A suspect has been identified as Tetsuya Yamagami. He is said to be in his 40s and local to the area. Sources add that the weapons used appeared to be homemade. At this time, the motive for Abe’s death is unclear. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offered his “deepest condolences” to the deceased, noting Abe “was a personal friend, with whom (he) spent a lot of time.” Former President of the United States Barack Obama issued a statement as well. “I am shocked and saddened by the assassination of my friend and longtime partner Shinzo Abe in Japan. Former Prime Minister Abe was devoted to both the country he served and the extraordinary alliance between the United States and Japan,” Obama said.