Shock in Japan: In broad daylight, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the victim of an attack – shortly before parliamentary elections. The island kingdom fears the worst.

An attack has been carried out on the street on the former right-wing conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. A man shot Abe twice from behind in broad daylight during a campaign speech in the old imperial city of Nara, Japanese media reported.

There are fears that Abe might not survive the attack. He was transferred to a hospital by helicopter and is said to be in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, according to media reports.

A 41-year-old Japanese man was arrested at the scene for attempted murder. Abe’s successor, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, immediately called off his election campaign in Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan and took a helicopter back to Tokyo. His government set up a crisis team. The attack happened two days before Sunday’s upper house elections. Japan is considered one of the safest countries and has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

Abe grabbed his chest when he collapsed on the street and his shirt was covered in blood, media reports said. On the way to a hospital, he was initially still conscious in the ambulance and responded to speech, it said.

Government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno strongly condemned the attack. There were also voices of concern from the opposition about the state of right-wing conservative Abe. “Violence against political activity is absolutely unacceptable,” said a Communist Party official. He prays for Abe.

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister

The US ambassador to Japan was also shocked. “We are all sad and shocked” that the former prime minister was shot, said Ambassador Rahm Emanuel in a statement. “Abe-san” was an “outstanding leader of Japan and a staunch ally of the United States.” “The US government and the American people pray for the well-being of Abe-san, his family and the people of Japan,” Emanuel wrote.

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 is one of the firm 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.” Abe believes the constitution is not that of an independent nation, having been imposed by the occupying United States in 1946.

Profits unequally distributed

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 profits being distributed unequally in recent years, his critics complained. A third of workers in Japan have no permanent job.

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 amending the constitution.