Shinzo Abe, Former Japanese Prime Minister, Is Shot

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest after being shot during a speech in western Japan, authorities said.

Mr. Abe has one gunshot wound and has been transferred to a hospital by helicopter, an official at the fire department in the city of Nara said.

Witnesses said two sounds like gunshots were heard while Mr. Abe was speaking and he appeared to be bleeding after the incident.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that police detained a man in his 40s at the site. The police couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

A government spokesman said Mr. Abe had been shot but he wasn’t aware of his condition. Mr. Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and stood down in September 2020.

A woman who was watching Mr. Abe’s speech told NHK a man approached him from behind. She said Mr. Abe collapsed after a second sound like a gunshot.

Video from the scene showed a man being pinned to the ground shortly after two loud bangs similar to those from fireworks were heard. Nearby, a device lay on the ground that appeared to be two metal pipes bound together with tape.

NHK said police are investigating the possibility that the device used to shoot Mr. Abe was homemade.

Attacks on politicians, especially with firearms, are rare in Japan due to strict gun control laws.

The last known case of an assassination with a gun of a prominent politician was in 2007, when the mayor of Nagasaki was shot by a member of a right-wing group.

Mr. Abe was giving a speech ahead of a national election in Japan on Sunday. Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, said “we are all saddened and shocked by the shooting of” Mr. Abe.