Shinzo Abe - Japan's longest-serving prime minister - has died after being shot twice as he made a campaign speech in the south of the country earlier today, local media has said.
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The 67-year-old, who served for a total of nine years over two terms, was gunned down in the city of Nara around 11.30am as he rallied support for the local candidate ahead of parliamentary elections on Sunday. His death was reported by public broadcaster NHK around six hours later, shortly after wife Akie arrived at his bedside.
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41 and a navy veteran, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder while wielding what appeared to be a home-made shotgun. Police say he has since confessed, telling them he wanted to kill Abe because he was 'dissatisfied' with him.
Kishida said the motivation for the attack is unknown, but the fact that it was carried out so close to the upcoming elections and during a campaign speech 'cannot be ignored'.
Kishida said 'no decision' had been made on the election, though several parties announced their senior members would halt campaigning in the wake of the attack.
Abe first took power in 2006 at the age of 52 - the youngest ever to hold the job - but was mired in scandal and abruptly stepped down while suffering debilitating bowel condition, ulcerative colitis.
He then regained the premiership in 2012 and held the role for the next eight years, before stepping down in 2020 when the bowel condition reemerged.
However, he remains a senior figure within the Liberal Democratic Party which has dominated Japan's political scene since the end of the Second World War.
'Former prime minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am,' in the country's western region of Nara, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
'One man, believed to be the shooter, has been taken into custody. The condition of former prime minister Abe is currently unknown.
'Whatever the reason, such a barbaric act can never be tolerated, and we strongly condemn it,' Matsuno added.
The suspected gunman, who was tackled at the scene and arrested, is a former soldier who was in the Japanese self-defense forces and appears to have built the improvised weapon used in the shooting, Radio 4 reported.