The longest-serving former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was killed while delivering a campaign speech in Japan’s western city of Nara.
Police arrested 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami on suspicion of attempted murder shortly after he was captured on video opening fire on Abe with an improvised firearm. Japanese reports indicate that the suspect worked for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force from 2002-2005.
NHK reports that the suspect used a homemade firearm, discharging his weapon at Abe from behind. The outlet reports that Yamagami told police that his intention was to kill Abe. The local fire department in Nara said that Abe was wounded on the right side of his cheek and the left side of his chest.
Footage of the shooting was captured on multiple videos, including one showing the suspect opening fire on Abe as he was giving a speech in the middle of the street. Abe’s security detail appeared to be slow to react to the initial shot.
The former prime minister went down after the suspect opened fire for a second time.
News of Abe’s death, which was reported hours after he was transported to hospital in critical condition, prompted condemnation and condolences from world leaders, including former president Donald Trump who called the news “devastating” and a “tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much.”
“Few people know what a great man and leader Shinzo Abe was, but history will teach them and be kind,” Trump wrote. “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.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shared his condolences with the people of Japan following news of his passing.
"Shinzo was a great leader, great man, and was a heck of an ally to this country," said Governor Ron DeSantis. "He understood freedom. he understood the threat posed by China. And he understood the importance of having a strong US-Japan relationship."
Obama said he was “shocked and saddened” by the news of the assassination. “I will always remember the work we did to strengthen our alliance, the moving experience of traveling to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor together, and the grace he and his wife Akie Abe showed to me and Michelle.”
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol condemned the assassination as an “intolerable, criminal act, while Iran described it as an “act of terrorism.”
“As a country that has been a victim of terrorism and has lost great leaders to terrorists, we are following the news closely and with concern,” said the Iranian Foreign Ministry in a statement.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen described Abe as a “close friend” and praised him for his diplomatic efforts.
“Not only has the international community lost an important leader, but Taiwan has also lost an important and close friend. Taiwan and Japan are both democratic countries with the rule of law, and our government severely condemns violent and illegal acts,” Tsai stated.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed sadness over Abe's death.
"The assassination of Abe Shinzo is incredibly s hocking -- and I'm deeply saddened," he said. "The world has lost a great man of vision, and Canada has lost a close friend."
"You'll be missed, my friend," he lamented.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lamented the assassination at a press conference at the National Palace where he displayed photos of Abe.
Russian officials expressed shock and dismay over Abe’s assassination, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova describing it as an act of terrorism.
“The hand of a criminal cut short the life of an outstanding statesman who headed the Japanese government for a long time and did a lot to develop good neighborly relations between our countries,” said Putin in a statement. “We maintained regular contacts with Shinzo, in which his excellent personal and professional qualities were fully demonstrated. The bright memory of this wonderful man will forever remain in the hearts of all who knew him.”
“I wish you and your family strength and courage in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss,” Putin said.
U.S. President Joe Biden made a statement expressing sadness and outrage over Abe’s death, but used the opportunity to pivot toward gun violence in the United States.
“While there are many details that we do not yet know, we know that violent attacks are never acceptable and that gun violence always leaves a deep scar on the communities that are affected by it,” said Biden. “The United States stands with Japan in this moment of grief. I send my deepest condolences to his family.”