THIS chilling picture shows Shinzo Abe with his killer lurking in the background moments before the ex-Prime Minister was shot dead.
Abe died after being brutally gunned down in a bloody assassination – with the lone gunman armed with a homemade weapon.
The 67-year-old was blasted in the neck and chest in the vicious killing which has shocked the world.
And a photo taken moments before he died shows Abe stepping up to a podium with the suspect staring at him.
Minutes after the photo was taken, the shooter unleashed a homemade shotgun and fired twice – fatally wounding the ex-PM.
Abe served as Prime Minister for nine years – the country’s longest consecutive term – and helped reshape Japan’s position on the world stage.
What we know so far…
- Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being gunned down in a violent assassination
- The 67-year-old was giving a speech in the western Japanese city of Nara when he was shot twice from behind in the chest and neck
- Video shows Abe go down clutching his chest after two loud bangs
- A 41-year-old armed forces veteran, Yamagami Tetsuya, was arrested with a homemade shotgun for the killing
- The motive is so far unknown, although conflicting local reports say the suspect has confessed to shooting Abe as he was ‘dissatisfied’ with his policies
- Japan’s prime minister has described the shooting as a “heinous act”
- A possible explosive device was found in the suspected shooter’s home, state broadcaster NHK reported
The motives for his murder remain unclear, but police captured suspect Yamagami Tetsuya, 41, after the shooting in Nara, Japan.
Tetsuya, who formerly served in Japan’s navy, lives locally and cops have since discovered a possible explosive device in his home.
Japan is regarded as one of the world’s safest countries and has some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere.
Horrifying footage shows Abe collapsing on the street clutching his blood-smeared chest as several security guards ran toward him.
Abe was airlifted to hospital but was declared dead hours later despite frantic efforts to save him including undergoing an emergency blood transfusion.
He had been giving a speech at a campaign event for his former party, the Liberal Democratic Party, as upper house elections in Japan are due to take place later this week.
His security team were around him, but the gunman was able to draw his weapon and shoot the former statesman at close range “without being checked”, local media said.
It was the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since the days of prewar militarism in the 1930s.
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Abe was pronounced dead at 5.03pm local time, or 9.03am UK time – about five and a half hours after he was shot.
Doctors said Abe had bled to death, suffered deep wounds to his neck, and one of the bullets entered his heart.
He had no vital signs when he was brought in.
And with the cameras trained on him during his speech from members of the public and TV stations, the whole assassination was captured on video.
Chilling footage from before the assassination shows the suspected gunman – wearing a grey shirt, brown trousers and a white face mask – lurking behind Abe.
His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many.
Separate footage from moments later shows him wielding the sawn-off style weapon as security guards attempt to get between him and the former PM.
Piecing together the shocking killing, further video then shows Abe delivering his speech.
It is suddenly interrupted by two huge cannon-like booms and huge puffs of white smoke.
Stunned onlookers barely make a sound as they desperately try to process what has happened.
And as Abe falls to the floor, his security team then charge and tackle the gunman – who drops his seemingly homemade weapon.
The gun appears to be made of two pipes strapped to a plank with thick black tape.
Pictures from the scene show Abe being helped by desperate members of the public as the men in black suits bundle onto the gunman.
The former prime minister was not breathing and his heart had stopped – but there was a rush to try and save his life.
His wife, Akie Abe, was rushed to the hospital to be at her stricken husband’s side.
Tributes have now begun flooding in to Abe from across the world stage.
In a statement, The Queen said: “I have fond memories of meeting Mr Abe and his wife during their visit to the United Kingdom in 2016.
“His love for Japan, and his desire to forge ever-closer bonds with the United Kingdom were clear.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Britain stood with Japan at this dark time following the “incredibly sad news”.
The outgoing PM said on Twitter: “His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many.
“My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people.”
His new chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said: “We enter politics to serve and to try and make the world a better place.
“Shinzo Abe has lost his life in pursuit of that noble aim. May he rest in eternal peace.”
And former PM Theresa May added: “Truly heartbreaking to hear of the death of my friend Shinzo Abe – killed in the most appalling of circumstances.
“He was a statesman of the highest calibre. A dependable partner and trusted ally. A consummate host. But also the warmest and kindest of friends.”
US President Joe Biden tweeted: “I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed.
“He was a champion of the friendship between our people.”
South Korea’s leader Yoon Seok-youl sent his condolences to Japan, and Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was “deeply saddened and stunned”.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he was “deeply shocked” by the death of Abe.
He said: “My thoughts are with the family of our Japanese friend who was always very kind to Poland. May he Rest In Peace.”
And Ukraine’s war leader President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Terrible news about the brutal murder of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.
“My deepest condolences to his family and the people of Japan at this difficult time.
“There is no justification for such a horrific act of violence.”
Suspected gunman Tetsuya is believed to have served in the Japanese military for three years until 2005.
His motive remains unknown – and there have been conflicting reports in Japanese media that he held a “grudge” due to Abe’s politics.
The former prime minister was known for his “Abenomics” as he sought to revive Japan’s economy.
And he also row back on some of their post World War 2 traditionally pacifist military policies amid threats from China and North Korea.
Fumio Kishida, Abe’s replacement as prime minister, was rushed to his office by helicopter for emergency talks with officials.
Addressing the media, he described the shooting as a “heinous act”.
He added that the reasons for the “barbaric” shooting were not clear at this moment.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said of the arrest: “A barbaric act like this is absolutely unforgivable, no matter what the reasons are, and we condemn it strongly.”
Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in developed nations, and such shootings are incredibly rare.
In 2007, Nagasaki’s mayor was shot and killed by a member of the yakuza criminal gang.
The head of Japan’s Socialist Party was assassinated with a samurai sword by a right-wing youth during a speech in 1960.
Abe was a sprightly 52 when he first became prime minister in 2006, the youngest person to occupy the job in the postwar era.
He was seen as a symbol of change and youth.
But also brought an impressive pedigree of a third-generation politician groomed from birth by an elite, conservative family.
Abe’s first term was turbulent, plagued by scandals and discord, and capped by an abrupt resignation due to a debilitating bowel condition.
But after treating his illness he ran again, and Japan’s revolving prime ministerial door brought him back to office in 2012.
It ended a turbulent period in which prime ministers sometimes changed at a rate of one a year.
With Japan still staggering from the effects of the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima , Abe offered a seemingly safe pair of hands.
However, after the years wore on his star began to wane – and this was capped with a muddled approach to the Covid pandemic that saw his approval rating plummet to record lows.
Abe had been due to stay on until late 2021, giving him an opportunity to see out one final event in his historic tenure — the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.
But in a shock announcement, he stepped down in August 2020, with a recurrence of ulcerative colitis ending his second term, too.