July 8, 2022 Shinzo Abe shot dead in Nara, Japan

By Jessie Yeung, Rhea Mogul, Helen Regan, Rob Picheta, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 0636 GMT (1436 HKT) July 9, 2022
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1:29 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Shooting of Abe will change Japan "forever," says security expert

Passersby pick up an extra edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in in Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture on July 8 after Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot.
Passersby pick up an extra edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in in Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture on July 8 after Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot. (The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP)

Friday’s shooting of Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will change the country "forever," a security expert said.

“It’s not only rare, but it’s really culturally unfathomable,” Nancy Snow, Japan director of the International Security Industrial Council, told CNN. “The Japanese people can’t imagine having a gun culture like we have in the United States. This is a speechless moment. I really feel at a loss for words. I pray for the best for the former prime minister.
“What this will do to the national psyche of a people who move about freely and have a social contract with each other, that they will not resort to this type of violence … I am devastated thinking about that.”

Snow said Japan has been an “oasis” and had “shown what it can teach the US about guns.”  

 “I think (Friday’s shooting) will change Japan, unfortunately forever,” she said.
12:49 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Gun crime is extremely rare in Japan

A policeman stands outside of a residential area of Nagakute town in Aichi prefecture, near Nagoya on May 17, 2007 after a man fired a gun.
A policeman stands outside of a residential area of Nagakute town in Aichi prefecture, near Nagoya on May 17, 2007 after a man fired a gun. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The shooting of Shinzo Abe has shocked Japan, which has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world due to its extremely strict gun control laws. 

In 2018, Japan only reported nine deaths from firearms, compared with 39,740 that year in the United States.

Under Japan's firearms laws, the only guns permitted for sale are shotguns and air rifles — handguns are outlawed. But getting them is a long and complicated process that requires strenuous effort — and lots of patience.

To buy a gun in Japan, potential buyers must attend an all-day class, pass a written test and a shooting-range test with an accuracy of at least 95%. They also must undergo mental health evaluation and drug tests, as well as a rigorous background check — including a review of their criminal record, personal debt, involvement in organized crime and relationships with family and friends.

In 2019, only an estimated 310,400 guns were held by civilians in Japan, in a country of 125 million people.

In 2007, the mayor of Nagasaki in southern Japan, Iccho Ito, died after being shot at least twice in the back by an alleged gangster. Since then, Japan has furthered tightened its gun control law, imposing heavier punishments for gun crimes committed by members of organized crime gangs.

Watch more on this here.

12:53 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida will return to his office immediately and speak later today

From CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listens to other G7 leaders speaking at the „Global Infrastructure“ side event during the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 26, 2022 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listens to other G7 leaders speaking at the „Global Infrastructure“ side event during the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 26, 2022 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has confirmed that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot at around 11:30 a.m. in Nara.

His condition is not known, and "we are checking the situation," Matsuno told reporters at an emergency news briefing at the Prime Minister's office.

Matsuno added that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was on a tour of official engagements, was immediately informed. Kishida will return to his office urgently, and is scheduled to speak later today.

Ministers in various parts of the country have been instructed to return to Tokyo immediately, said Matsuno. Relevant ministries and agencies have held a meeting to deal with the situation. 

“Such barbaric behavior is unacceptable for any reason and we firmly condemn it. The government will take all possible measures to deal with the situation,” said Matsuno.
12:57 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Video by public broadcaster NHK shows smoke in the air and a loud bang

Video footage aired by Japan's public broadcaster NHK captures the moments leading up to and after Abe's collapse.

The former Prime Minister was on the street speaking to a small crowd, delivering a campaign speech, when a loud bang is heard. The camera shakes, with shouts heard. Moments later, police can be seen wrestling a man to the ground.

Another video aired by NHK shows smoke in the air in the moments surrounding Abe's collapse.

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder and retrieved a gun, according to NHK.

12:28 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Former Prime Minister Abe was responsive after he collapsed, NHK reports

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was conscious and responsive while being transported to the hospital after the possible shooting, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, citing police sources.

An aerial photo from Nara city on Friday shows Abe being taken to the hospital via helicopter. Abe is seen lying on a stretcher, surrounded by several people.

1:37 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Shinzo Abe was in Nara giving an election campaign speech when he collapsed

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks for his party member candidate of the House of Councillors Election near Yamato Saidaiji Station in Nara Prefecture on July 8.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks for his party member candidate of the House of Councillors Election near Yamato Saidaiji Station in Nara Prefecture on July 8. (The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP)

The former Prime Minister was in Nara on Friday giving a speech in support of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates, ahead of Upper House elections scheduled for Sunday, when the apparent shooting occurred.

Photos taken before Abe collapsed show him speaking on the street, with onlookers and passersby clearly visible around him.

12:30 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Nara City Fire Department says Shinzo Abe was in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest

An aerial photo shows a man believed to be former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the stretcher at Nara Medical University Hospital in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture on July 8.
An aerial photo shows a man believed to be former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the stretcher at Nara Medical University Hospital in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture on July 8. (The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP)

An official from the Nara City Fire Department has confirmed to CNN that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest when he collapsed while giving a campaign speech in Nara.

Abe was rushed to hospital on Friday after he was shot in the chest during a speech public broadcaster NHK reported, citing an official of the Liberal Democratic Party Abe faction.

His condition is unknown, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said, according to Reuters.

12:13 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

US Ambassador to Japan: America is "praying" for Abe

United States Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel posted on Twitter Friday that he was "saddened and shocked" following the possible shooting of Shinzo Abe.

"Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and unwavering ally of the U.S. The U.S. Government and American people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, & people of Japan," it added.

12:11 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Shinzo Abe's condition is unknown, says Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary

Video aired by Japan's public broadcaster NHK shows smoke in the air in the moments surrounding Shinzo Abe's collapse in Nara.
Video aired by Japan's public broadcaster NHK shows smoke in the air in the moments surrounding Shinzo Abe's collapse in Nara.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the condition of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is unknown, according to Reuters.

Abe was rushed to hospital after being apparently shot in the chest, according to public broadcaster NHK.

An aerial photo showed emergency vehicles at the scene in the city of Nara, and a small crowd gathered on the sidewalk. Video broadcast on NHK showed police wrestling a man to the ground on the street, close to where Abe was delivering an election campaign speech.