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Politics & Security

TIMELINE: Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Assassinated

A gunman at an election rally in Nara ended the life of the longest-serving and one of the most popular prime ministers in Japanese history.

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On July 8, just before 6 PM, it was reported that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had died, according to multiple sources and local media. 

This is how the day unfolded.

At 11:30 AM: The 67-year-old former Japanese prime minister was speaking at a political rally in Nara on behalf of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Upper House candidate Kei Sato ahead of the national Upper House election on July 10. 

About 11:31 AM or thereabouts, gunshot-like noise was heard near Yamato-Saidaiji Station on the Kitetsu line. Abe collapsed, with witnesses reporting he was bleeding. 

He was still conscious immediately after the shooting, according to eyewitnesses on the scene. Medical staff later confirmed that he had been shot on the left side of his chest, and two wounds on the neck about 5 centimeters apart. 

An airborne image of the crime scene after Shinzo Abe was shot in Nara, July 8.

By 11:45 AM the former prime minister was carried away in an ambulance and then airlifted by helicopter to Nara Medical University Hospital. 

At noon it is reported that the former prime minister was in cardiopulmonary arrest on the way to the hospital. He arrives at the hospital at about 12:20. 

The police reveal that immediately following the gunshots a man in his forties was arrested on the spot and a gun was taken away from him. The gun was about 20 cm wide and 40 cm long, held together with black tape. On first inspection it seemed handmade, the police confirms. 

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Images from the day, July 8.

About 12:17 PM the police report that Abe was likely shot from behind. At least one witness reports that he collapsed after the second shot.

The suspect is identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old unemployed resident of Nara Prefecture. In footage from the crime scene, he is seen wearing glasses, a gray t-shirt and similarly colored trousers. 

In the evening, the police in a press conference reveal that the suspect has admitted to the crime, and that when asked what the motive was he had replied: “a grudge against a certain group,” and because he “believes that Shinzo Abe had connections to the said organization.” 

Yamagami found out about the political rally by reading the information online, as reported by the national broadcast NHK. 

The police also say that the suspect had likely arrived at the location by train. 

1:03 PM: It is reported that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has canceled the remainder of his campaign events and is returning to Tokyo.

About 2:45 PM: Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holds a press conference and confirms that the situation is “extremely serious” and that Abe is undergoing critical care. Read his statement here. 

Hidetaka Fukushima of Nara Medical University Hospital talks to the press on the evening of July 8.

About 6:30 PM: The wounds were deep enough to reach the heart, says the doctor that operated on him, Hidetaka Fukushima of Nara Medical University Hospital. Dr. Fukushima explains how medics tried to stop the bleeding. The team performed transfusions with more than 100 units of blood, but they couldn’t save him. The doctor confirms that Abe had been confirmed dead at 5:03 PM due to blood loss. 

At about 7 PM: Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says that he is “lost for words,” as did several members of the political world in Japan. Read the article here

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In the coming hours, leaders from all over the world also send their condolences in honor of the eminent former leader of Japan.

Japan’s Longest-Serving Prime Minister 

Shinzo Abe was the longest continuously-serving prime minister in Japanese history, holding the post for eight years in his later terms and one year in his first term. He was also the longest-serving prime minister in terms of the number of days in office: 3,188 in total.  

He resigned as prime minister in 2020 due to health concerns. Yet, he was still a very powerful force in Japanese politics, and the leader of the largest faction in his party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). 

He was credited with trying to forward major ideas as part of the LDP agenda, including his signature “Abenomics,” increasing Japan’s defense readiness, constitutional reform, and securing the return of the Japanese who were abducted by North Korea.  

International figures are already reacting to the news. This is a developing story that will be updated as information comes in. 

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Author: Arielle Busetto

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