TOKYO (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe collapsed in the middle of a rally speech in Nara prefecture on Friday (July 8), media reports said.
Media reports said that Abe was bleeding as he collapsed and that a sound "akin to a gunshot was heard".
Abe was shot three times from behind with a shotgun, media cited police as saying.
Local media said Abe was being rushed unconscious to hospital and that his heartbeat has stopped.
A man in his 40s has been arrested, police said.
Japan votes in an Upper House election on Sunday (July 10), where 545 candidates are vying for 125 seats.
Japan is a country with some of the strictest gun laws among leading economies and shootings are rare.
Abe, 67, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, with two stints in office from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020.
Abe’s record-setting run as prime minister before he resigned in 2020 brought stability to Japan after a revolving door of six administrations, including a previous stint by him.
He helped Japan escape from a cycle of deflation, endured a Trump administration that questioned the nation’s only military alliance, and worked to improve ties with its biggest trading partner China, which were at their most hostile in decades when he took office.
Abe is perhaps best known for his plans to revive Japan’s flagging economy through unprecedented monetary easing and regulatory reform that was eventually labeled “Abenomics”.
He was seen as a steady hand who consolidated power during his record second run, and was able to overcome scandals. This included one that came to light in 2017 over questionable government land allocations for schools provided to associates of Abe and his wife Akie.
This story is developing.