Our live coverage on the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has moved here.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died after being shot on the street in the city of Nara on Friday — a shocking act of violence in a country with one of the world's lowest rates of gun crime. The shooting suspect was arrested by police, who said he admitted to shooting Abe.
Here's what you need to know:
The shooting: Abe was shot at about 11:30 a.m. local time in Nara, east of Osaka, as he gave an election campaign speech on the street. He suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his neck, according to officials in Tokyo. He was taken to the hospital first by ambulance, then by medical helicopter.
Rushed to the hospital: Abe arrived at the hospital in a state of cardiac arrest at 12:20 p.m. local time, according to doctors at Nara Medical University.
Confirmed dead: Abe was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time, according to the head of Nara Medical University. At a news conference at the hospital, doctors said the former leader died from excessive bleeding and the bullet that killed him had penetrated deep enough to reach his heart.
The suspect: Police arrested shooting suspect Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, who admitted to shooting Abe. According to police, Yamagami said he holds hatred toward a certain group, which he thought Abe was linked to. He used a homemade gun in the shooting, and authorities confiscated several handmade pistol-like items from his apartment, police said.
Shootings are extremely rare in Japan because of strict gun ownership laws: In 2018, Japan, a country of 125 million people, 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. The laws and the thorough process of background checks have kept the number of private gun owners in Japan extremely low.
UN ambassadors observed a moment of silence for the assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a session of the Human Rights Council on Friday in Geneva.
The moment of silence was prompted by Japan's Ambassador to Geneva Yamazaki Kazuyuki, who asked other representatives to join him in his tribute to Abe.
“I would appreciate if you could join us in observing a moment of silence and silent prayer for Mr. Abe Shinzo,” Kazuyuki said.
A car believed to be carrying the body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left the Nara Medical University Hospital in Japan's Nara prefecture before 6 a.m. local time on Saturday, the country's public broadcaster NHK reported.
Abe arrived at the hospital in a state of cardiac arrest at 12:20 p.m. local time, according to doctors at Nara Medical University.
He was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time, according to the head of Nara Medical University. At a news conference at the hospital, doctors said the former leader died from excessive bleeding and the bullet that killed him had penetrated deep enough to reach his heart.
US President Joe Biden spoke about the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the beginning of his speech to CIA employees in Virginia on Friday, calling Abe a "friend” and adding he has “confidence in the strength of Japan’s democracy.”
Biden began his remarks by speaking about the “horrific, shocking killing of my friend Japanese Prime Minister Abe,” and reflected on his personal history with Abe during Biden’s tenure as vice president.
“I became acquainted with him as vice president, I hosted him, he hosted me in Japan," Biden said, noting that he stopped by on Friday to see the ambassador and "sign a condolence book for the Japanese people."
"I knew him (Abe) well. We worked together closely for years and we spoke and consulted one another when I served as vice president. And he was deeply committed to strengthening the alliance and friendship between the United States and Japan and pursuing an open and free Indo-Pacific region,” Biden said.
Biden praised the former Japanese leader for his commitment and wished the people of Japan well amid a shocking gun violence death in a nation with historically very few instances of gun violence.
“Even after he stepped down from public office to focus on his health, he stayed engaged. He cared deeply and I hold him in great respect. This attack was – has had a profound impact on the psyche of the Japanese people. This is a different, different culture. They're not used to as unfortunately, we are, in the United States, we know how deep the wounds of gun violence go from communities that are affected. And this assassination is a tragedy that all the people in Japan,” Biden said.
Biden said he’s confident Japan’s democracy will withstand the tumult of Abe’s death ahead of its upcoming elections.
“Today, I’m keeping his wife and family my prayers, and the United States is standing in solidarity with our ally, Japan, with confidence in the strength of Japan's democracy as they approach their elections on Sunday,” Biden said.
Japan's National Police Agency will review security arrangements for former prime minister Shinzo Abe after he was fatally shot during a campaign speech, the country's public broadcaster, NHK, reported Saturday.
Abe was shot in Nara prefecture in central Japan. He died on Friday from excessive bleeding and was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time, doctors at the Nara Medical University hospital said during a news conference on Friday.
NHK added that the police agency said the Nara prefectural police drew up a security plan for the former prime minister while in the city. The agency said that the prefecture's police officers and security personnel from the Tokyo Metropolitan police had remained on the lookout and had reportedly watched Abe from all sides during his speech, NHK reported.
The police agency did not state how many officers had been deployed to the site. However, it said several dozen, including one specially assigned personnel from the Tokyo police force and the Nara prefecture's plain-clothed police officers were on duty, NHK reported.
Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died after being shot during a campaign speech Friday in Nara. He was 67.
Abe served two separate terms as the Japanese leader for the right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) — the first from 2006 to 2007, then again from 2012 until 2020. His second stint was the longest consecutive term for a Japanese head of government.
He came from a family of Japanese prime ministers
Abe was born on Sept. 21, 1954, in Tokyo, to a prominent political family. Both his grandfather and great uncle served as prime minister, and his father was a former secretary general of the LDP.
Abe was first elected to Japan's House of Representatives in 1993, at age 38. He held a number of cabinet positions throughout the 2000s, and in 2003 became secretary general of the LDP. Four years later, he was named the party's president and became prime minister of Japan.
His first term was marred by controversies and worsening health, and he stepped down as party leader and prime minister in 2007. The end of Abe's first term opened a revolving door in which five different men held the prime minister post in five years until his re-election in 2012. He stepped down in 2020 citing ill health.
He continued to be an influential leader after leaving office
After leaving office, Abe remained head of the largest faction of the ruling LDP and remained influential within the party. He has continued to campaign for a stronger security policy and last year angered China by calling for a greater commitment from allies to defend democracy in Taiwan. In response, Beijing summoned Japan's ambassador and accused Abe of openly challenging China's sovereignty.
Abe redefined Japan's diplomatic and military policy
Abe will be remembered for boosting defense spending and pushing through the most dramatic shift in Japanese military policy in 70 years. In 2015, his government passed a reinterpretation of Japan's postwar, pacifist constitution, allowing Japanese troops to engage in overseas combat — with conditions — for the first time since World War II.
Abe argued the change was needed to respond to a more challenging security environment, a nod to a more assertive China and frequent missile tests in North Korea.
During his term, Abe sought to improve relations with Beijing and held a historic phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2018. At the same time, he tried to counter Chinese expansion in the region by uniting Pacific allies.
He attempted to build a personal relationship with former United States President Donald Trump. As Washington's relationship with Pyongyang tipped toward diplomacy, with both Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in holding historic summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Abe said he was "determined" to meet Kim. Abe wanted to normalize relations with North Korea and ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but his first priority was to bring some closure for the families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s.
During his tenure, Japan's relations with South Korea soured. The two countries were engaged in a major dispute in which trade and military intelligence deals were scrapped, partly due to the legacy of World War II and Japan's brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Abe came to office during a time of economic turmoil and soon set about rebooting Japan's economy after decades of stagnation. Soon after he was re-elected prime minister in 2012, he launched a grand experiment popularly known as "Abenomics."
It included three so-called arrows — massive monetary stimulus, increased government spending, and structural reforms.
After a strong start, it faltered and in 2015, Abe fired "three new arrows" designed to boost gross domestic product. Any hopes they might eventually hit their mark were dashed when Covid-19 swept through the country in 2020, tipping Japan into recession.
One of Abe's major domestic achievements was securing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But the success of the much anticipated Tokyo Games was ultimately undone by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the competition to be postponed to 2021.
Abe declared a state of emergency months after the first cases were detected. His administration was also criticized for the low rate of testing, and an early lack of specialist medical equipment to treat the rising number of patients.
More successful was Abe's handling of the abdication of Emperor Akihito, the first Japanese monarch to step down in two centuries. He was succeeded by his son, Emperor Naruhito, in October 2019, starting the Reiwa era.
Abe is survived by his wife Akie Abe, née Matsuzaki, who he married in 1987. The couple did not have children.
US President Joe Biden is ordering flags to be lowered to half-staff until July 10 following the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, writing in a presidential proclamation that the late PM “was a proud servant of the Japanese people and a faithful friend to the United States.”
“He worked with American Presidents of both parties to deepen the Alliance between our nations and advance a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Biden wrote Friday. “Even in the moment he was attacked and killed, he was engaged in the work of democracy, to which he dedicated his life.”
Biden also signed a condolence book for Abe at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC. He laid a small wreath of flowers on the table as well.
Japanese Ambassador to the US Koji Tomita greeted Biden for the condolence book signing, according to reporters traveling with the President.
CNN's Aaron Pellish contributed reporting for this post.
Correction: A earlier version of this post incorrectly described where Biden signed a condolence book for Abe. It was at the Japanese ambassador's residence.
Tributes to Shinzo Abe have continued to pour in from politicians around the world, many of whom recalled their visits with the former leader and expressed their shock at his killing.
French President Emmanuel Macron said “Japan has lost a great prime minister."
“On behalf of the French people, I send my condolences to the Japanese authorities and people after the assassination of Shinzo Abe. Japan has lost a great Prime Minister, who dedicated his life to his country and worked to bring balance to the world,” Macron tweeted.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Abe's assassination "shocking," and praised Abe as "a leader with great vision" and an "extraordinary partner," who took US-Japanese relations "to new heights."
“It’s profoundly disturbing in and of itself, it’s also such a strong personal loss for so many people," Blinken said Friday.
A number of former leaders who worked with Abe during his time as Japanese prime minister also offered their condolences.
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron said Abe was "a good friend personally, a strong partner to the UK, and a thoroughly kind and decent man." He called his death "devastating and truly shocking."
Israel's ex-leader Benjamin Netanyahu said he "will always remember Shinzo Abe and cherish our deep friendship," while Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French prime minister, called him "a great leader who left his mark on Japan."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Abe's death "incredibly shocking," adding that he was "deeply saddened." Trudeau tweeted, "The world has lost a great man of vision, and Canada has lost a close friend. My thoughts are with his wife, Akie, and the people of Japan as they mourn this loss. You’ll be missed, my friend."
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called Abe "a brilliant leader" in a tweet Friday. “I receive with extreme indignation and grief the news of the death of @AbeShinzo, a brilliant leader who was a great friend of Brazil. I extend to Abe's family, as well as to our Japanese brothers, my solidarity and my wish that God watch over their souls in this moment of pain," he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sent his “deepest condolences” to Abe’s family and the people of Japan. “Horrible news of a brutal assassination of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. I am extending my deepest condolences to his family and the people of Japan at this difficult time. This heinous act of violence has no excuse,” Zelensky tweeted.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she was “extremely pained” by Abe's passing, referring to the late leader as “the staunchest friend of Taiwan.” Tsai Ing-wen said Abe was “an old friend” she had known “for more than a decade.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres tweeted his condolences over Abe's assassination. “I’m deeply saddened by the horrific killing of Shinzo Abe, former Prime Minister of Japan,” Guterres said. “I had the privilege of knowing him for years & will always remember his collegiality & commitment to multilateralism. My condolences to his family, and the people & Government of Japan.”
Former US President Barack Obama said he’s “shocked and saddened” by Abe's assassination. In a statement, he recounted the close relationship the two leaders forged during his second term in office and the “extraordinary alliance” between the two nations. In 2016, Obama traveled to Hiroshima with Abe — becoming the first sitting US president to do so — and later that year, Abe returned the gesture, becoming the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor.
Former US President George W. Bush, who worked with Abe during his first stint as Japanese prime minister in 2006, said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened to learn of the senseless assassination," adding that "Shinzo Abe was a patriot of his country who wanted to continue serving it."
Queen Elizabeth II, in a message of condolence to the emperor of Japan, said Abe's "love for Japan, and his desire to forge ever-closer bonds with the United Kingdom, were clear. I wish to convey my deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and to the people of Japan at this difficult time.”
The Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, expressed his "deep sadness," saying in an interview Friday with Italian state broadcaster RAI that Abe "was a man who had a great influence beyond Japan's borders. He was a very controversial person as well, however, a man of principles, a man of great sense of the common good of his people."