On Friday, July 8, former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed while giving a campaign speech in western Japan. Current prime minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that he was “not aware of the motives and background behind this attack, but this attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections—the very foundation of our democracy—and is absolutely unforgivable.”
Abe served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history. Abe was known for his conservative views, with a 2012 op-ed in The World describing him as “an outspoken nationalist” whose tenure could pull Japanese politics firmly to the right; he supported expanding the reach and strength of the Japanese military, and in 2014 some drew comparisons between Abe’s cabinet and the U.S. right-wing Tea Party in the U.S.
Nara Medical University emergency department chief Hidetada Fukushima said Abe suffered major damage to his heart in addition to two artery-damaging neck wounds. A man in his 40s has been arrested in connection with the shooting, which stands out in a country where the strict gun laws make it difficult to obtain firearms. Indeed, it has been reported that the suspect in the Abe killing used a homemade gun.