Shinzo Abe

TOKYO, July 08: Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in heart failure after apparently being shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan, NHK public television said Friday.

The broadcaster aired footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running toward him. Abe was holding his chest when he collapsed, with his shirt smeared with blood. NHK says Abe was rushed to a hospital.

67-Years-old Shinzo Abe was in Nara campaigning ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house and was giving a speech when people heard a gunshot. Police arrested a male suspect at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder, NHK said.

The attack was a shock in a country that’s one of the world’s safest and has some of the strictest gun control laws. It was not immediately clear how severe Abe’s injuries were or if he was still displaying vital signs.

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The longest-serving prime minister of Japan

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, announced his resignation from poor health in August 2020, ending a stint at the helm of the world’s third-biggest economy.

“I have decided that I will step down as prime minister, with the belief that I cannot continue being prime minister if I do not have the confidence that I can carry out the job entrusted to me by the people,” Abe had told a news conference.

Abe is political blue blood who was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military and a bigger role in international affairs.