Japan’s ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not survive the assassination attempt on him. He succumbed to his gunshot wounds in hospital. A man had previously shot him during an election campaign appearance.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been shot dead. The 67-year-old was assassinated on Friday in the Japanese city of Nara. A suspect is a 41-year-old Japanese who was arrested at the scene. According to media reports, the man fired twice at the former prime minister with a home-made gun. The right-wing conservative politician then collapsed, bleeding from the left chest and neck.

The two shots can be heard on video recordings by reporters. Dramatic scenes took place at the crime scene. Helpers performed initial heart massages on Abe, who was lying on the street, before he was taken to a hospital. The politician is said to have been conscious on the way to the hospital.

The assassin is said to be a 41-year-old former member of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. He was “dissatisfied” with Abe and wanted to “kill” him, the man was quoted as saying by NHK television after his arrest. According to other reports, he said he had “no grudges against Abe’s political beliefs”.

Japan in shock

Abe ruled Japan from December 2012 to September 2020, making him the country’s longest-serving prime minister. According to critics, Japan clearly moved to the right under him. The 67-year-old was one of the staunch advocates of a revision of the country’s pacifist post-war constitution. In Article 9 of the Constitution, Japan “forever renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes”.

The attack in one of the safest countries in the world, which has extremely strict gun laws, not only shocked the people of Japan. “Violence against political activity is absolutely unacceptable,” said a representative of the Japanese Communist Party, for which Abe’s nationalist policies have always been a red rag.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was also dismayed. “I am shocked by the news that Shinzo Abe has been gunned down,” the Greens politician said on Twitter. “My thoughts are with him and his family,” the message, written in English, continued.

Baerbock is currently at the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also expressed deep sadness and concern there. “Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the people of Japan,” said Blinken, according to the New York Times.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen condemned the attack. Abe is not only her good friend, but also Taiwan’s closest friend, who has supported the island’s democratic republic for years, Tsai wrote on Facebook. The former head of government spared no effort to promote relations between the two countries. IOC President Thomas Bach wrote on Twitter: “I am deeply shocked by this cowardly attack on former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. My thoughts are with him. I hope and pray that he recovers.” Under Abe, Japan was awarded the contract for the Tokyo Olympics.

Abe successor Kishida breaks off election campaign

The attack happened shortly before elections to the upper house of parliament this Sunday. “It is an attack on parliamentary democracy and cannot be tolerated,” said House Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda. Abe’s successor and party colleague Fumio Kishida condemned the attack “strongly”. He had previously canceled an election campaign in northern Yamagata Prefecture and returned to his Tokyo headquarters by helicopter.

Abe believes that Japan’s constitution is not that of an independent nation, having been imposed in 1946 by the occupying United States. His LDP party is expected to win a landslide victory in the upper house elections, after which the debate on amending the constitution could gain momentum.

Economically, Abe wanted to lead Japan out of decades of deflation and stagnation with his “Abenomics” economic policy of cheap money, debt-financed economic stimulus injections and the promise of structural reforms. Admittedly, the number three in the global economy has meanwhile experienced the longest growth phase in years under Abe. He also boosted tourism, which brought a lot of money into the country before the corona pandemic. At the same time, however, “Abenomics” has led to the fact that profits have been distributed unequally in recent years, critics have complained. A third of all employees are without permanent employment.