Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been the victim of an attack. The 67-year-old was shot during a campaign speech. His health is critical.

Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in a “serious condition” after the attack. That’s what his successor and party friend, incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said to journalists on Friday.

Kishida condemned the attack in the city of Nara “strongly”. He had previously broken off an election campaign in northern Yamagata Prefecture and immediately returned to his official residence in Tokyo by helicopter. The motive for the attack is not yet known, said Kishida.

Ex-military is said to have committed an assassination attempt

According to a media report, the assassination was carried out by an ex-member of the country’s self-defense forces. This was reported by the Japanese television station NHK, citing sources in the Ministry of Defense. The 41-year-old is said to have fired two shots at Abe from behind with a homemade gun while he was delivering a campaign speech in the city of Nara. According to the police, the assassin wanted to kill Abe because he was “dissatisfied” with him.

The 67-year-old was hit in the chest area, it said. Two shots can be clearly heard on video footage of reporters. The Japanese man arrested at the scene had been with the country’s navy for three years until 2005, NHK reported. According to the media, Abe is said to have suffered cardiopulmonary arrest.

“Former Prime Minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 a.m. in Nara,” government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. “One man, the suspected shooter, has been arrested. Former Prime Minister Abe’s condition is currently unknown.”

“He was giving a speech and a man came up from behind,” a local woman told NHK. The attacker fired at least two shots. “After the second shot, people surrounded him (Abe) and gave him chest compressions.”

Shinzo Abe reigned record time in Japan

Abe ruled Japan from December 2012 to September 2020, making him the country’s longest-serving prime minister. Under him, Japan had moved significantly to the right. Abe is among the staunch supporters of a revision of the post-war pacifist 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”.

Elections to the House of Lords will take place in Japan on Sunday. The LDP is expected to win a landslide victory. This could gain momentum in the debate about changing the constitution. The island kingdom of Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in the world and is considered one of the safest countries in the world.