Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot while giving a speech on Friday.
Abe was giving a speech in the western city of Nara when he was shot, state broadcaster NHK said.
His death was also confirmed by a source within the ruling Liberal Democrat Party, Reuters reported.
67-year-old Abe held his chest as he collapsed, his shirt smeared with blood.
NHK showed footage of security guards running toward him.
He sustained wounds to the right side of his neck and to the left collarbone, the Nara City Fire Department said, adding that he was in cardiopulmonary arrest before being taken to a hospital.
Defence minister Nobuo Kishi said Abe had received a blood transfusion.
A puff of white smoke was seen as he made a campaign speech outside a railway station.
A reporter at the scene said they heard two consecutive bangs during Abe’s address.
A 41-year-old man has been arrested, police said.
The suspect told officers he was unhappy with Mr. Abe and intended to kill him, NHK reported.
But Kyodo News said the man had not been motivated by a grudge against Abe’s political beliefs.
It is also reported that the suspect served in the Japanese Navy.
Earlier, current prime minister Fumio Kishida said that while “everything that can be done is being done,” Abe was in a “grave condition.”
Kishida added that the “act of brutality” was “absolutely unforgivable.”
He has asked all members of the cabinet to return to Tokyo.
Elections to Japan’s upper house are due to be held on Sunday.
Political violence is rare in Japan, which has strict gun regulations.
“A barbaric act like this is absolutely unforgivable, no matter what the reasons are, and we condemn it strongly,” chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.
US ambassador Rahm Emanuel commented: “The US government and American people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, and the people of Japan.”
Outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe.”
Abe served two terms as prime minister – becoming Japan’s longest-serving premier – before stepping down in 2020, saying a chronic health problem had resurfaced.
He has suffered from ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager.
He has remained a dominant presence in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, controlling one of its major factions.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.