Shinzo Abe shooting: Doctor’s tragic update on former leader
The bullet that killed former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe was “deep enough to hit his heart”, doctors treating him said.
The bullet that killed former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe was “deep enough to hit his heart”, doctors from Nara Medical University, who were treating him, told a news conference on Friday.
They said he was bleeding profusely and a team of 20 doctors couldn’t stop him, leading to him dying from excessive bleeding.
They said Abe had no vital signs when he arrived at the hospital and there was “a big wound” on the lining of his heart.
Abe’s death came hours after he was shot at a political campaign event in an attack condemned as “absolutely unforgivable”.
“Shinzo Abe was rushed to (hospital) at 12:20 p.m. He was in cardiac arrest when he arrived. Resuscitation was administered. Unfortunately, he died at 5:03 p.m.,” said Hidetada Fukushima, professor of medicine. emergency room at Nara Medical University Hospital.
The killing of the country’s best-known politician comes despite Japan’s strict gun laws and with the campaign underway ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections.
Earlier, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ditched campaigning and flew to Tokyo by helicopter where he addressed reporters in a voice wavering with emotion.
“I pray that former Prime Minister Abe survives,” he said, condemning “a barbaric act during the election campaign, which is the foundation of democracy.” “It is absolutely unforgivable. I condemn this act in the strongest terms. The attack took place before noon in the Nara region in the west of the country, where Abe, 67, had given a speech of stump with security present, but onlookers could approach him easily.
Footage released by NHK shows him standing on a stage when a man in a gray shirt and brown trousers begins to approach from behind, before pulling something from a bag and firing.
At least two shots appear to have been fired, each producing a cloud of smoke. As onlookers and reporters ducked, a man was shown tackled to the ground by security. He was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, according to reports.
Local media identified the man as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, citing law enforcement sources, with several outlets describing him as a former member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, the country’s navy.
He was wielding a weapon described by local media as a “homemade gun”, and NHK said it told police after his arrest that he was “aiming at Abe with the intention of killing him”.
“A Big Blow”
Witnesses at the scene described shock as the political event turned into chaos. “The first hit felt like a toy bazooka,” one woman told NHK. “He didn’t fall and there was a big bang. The second hit was more visible, you could see the spark and the smoke,” she added.
“After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him heart massage.” Abe was bleeding from the neck, witnesses said, and photographs were shown. He reportedly responded first, but then lost consciousness.
Officials from Abe’s local Liberal Democratic Party branch said there had been no threats prior to the incident and his speech had been announced publicly.
Kishida said “no decision” had been made on the election, although several parties announced that their top officials would stop campaigning in the wake of the attack.
The attack caused international shock.
“It’s a very, very sad moment,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at a G20 meeting in Bali, saying the United States was “deeply saddened and deeply concerned.”
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha was “very shocked” by Abe’s shooting, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply upset” by the news.
“Deeply sad and shocking”
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for a year and then from 2012 to 2020 when he was forced to step down due to a debilitating bowel disease, ulcerative colitis.
He was a warmongering conservative who pushed for the revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to recognize the country’s military and remained a prominent political figure even after his resignation.
Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and annual gun deaths in the country of 125 million people are regularly in single digits.
Obtaining a firearms license is a long and complicated process for Japanese citizens, who must first obtain a recommendation from a shooting association and then undergo strict police checks.
Japan has “not seen anything like it for more than 50 to 60 years,” Corey Wallace, an assistant professor at Kanagawa University who specializes in Japanese politics, told AFP.
He said the last similar incident was probably the 1960 assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, the leader of Japan’s Socialist Party, who was stabbed by a right-wing youth.
“But two days before an election, of such an important (man) (…) it’s really deeply sad and shocking.” He also noted that Japanese politicians and voters are used to a personal and close-knit style of campaigning.
“That could really change.”