Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe died Friday (July 8) at the age of 67 after being shot during a campaign event.
Abe, Japan‘s longest-serving prime minister, was campaigning for other members of the governing conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Nara ahead of elections scheduled for Sunday (July 10) at the time of his murder.
Gunfire was heard at around 11:30 a.m. local time just as Abe began his speech. One person was arrested in relation to the fatal shooting, officials confirmed via NBC News.
Abe was transported to Nara Medical University Hospital after suffering cardio and pulmonary arrest and pronounced dead just after 5:00 a.m. local time.
Dr. Hidetada Fukushima, a professor of emergency medicine at Nara Medical University Hospital, announced that the former prime minister had two gunshot wounds and no vital signs when he arrived, which was within an hour from when the shooting took place.
The hospital attempted multiple life-saving measures, including blood transfusions, before Abe was officially pronounced dead at 4:03 a.m. local time.
Current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Abe was killed in “a despicable and barbaric manner” while addressing reporters after the announcement of his death.
“I had been praying that he would somehow survive this, but our prayers were in vain, and to be receiving this news — I just have no words, only that I would like to offer my deepest condolences,” Kishida said via NBC News.
Kishida confirmed campaigning for the upper house of Parliament would continue on Saturday (July 9) despite the murder of Abe, who stepped down during his fourth term as prime minister in 2020.
“I believe that free and fair elections, which are the foundation of democracy, must absolutely be upheld,” Kishida said.
Abe was inaugurated as prime minister of Japan in 2006 before initially resigning in 2007 and once again formally elected in 2012 during the second of four terms.