TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday ex-PM Abe Shinzo is in grave condition after he was shot with a gun during an election speech in Nara Prefecture. 

Kishida said he was praying from his heart that Abe survives the ordeal. He condemned the attack calling it “completely unforgivable.”

The PM added that the government will consider how to respond once there is a grasp on the situation. Kishida also called on all cabinet members to return to Tokyo and halt all election speeches scheduled for Friday.

Nothing has been decided about the election-related schedule on Sunday.

The attack took place on July 8, at around 11:30 am, at Kintetsu “Yamato-Saidaiji Station” in Nara Prefecture, when Abe was giving a cheering speech for a candidate running for the House of Councillors, and there were 30 people at the scene.

Abe, 67, collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party told the Jiji news agency.

National broadcaster NHK said a man in his 40s had been arrested for attempted murder and a gun had been confiscated from him, citing police sources.

“He was giving a speech and a man came from behind,” a young woman at the scene told NHK.
“The first shot sounded like a toy. He didn’t fall and there was a large bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the spark and smoke,” she added.

“After the second shot, people surrounded him and gave him cardiac massage.”

Police are investigating the situation at the scene inland some reports said the attacker is most likely dead.

NHK and Kyodo both reported Abe was taken to hospital and appeared to be in cardo-respiratory arrest — a term used in Japan indicating no vital signs, and generally preceding a formal certification of death by a coroner.

Several media outlets reported that he appeared to have been shot from behind, possibly with a shotgun. NHK reported that a man had been apprehended, though there were no immediate further details.

The government said a task force had been formed in the wake of the incident and the top government spokesman was expected to speak shortly.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020.