Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Shot Dead.

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving leader, was pronounced dead on Friday afternoon, the hospital treating him confirmed, after he was shot at a campaign event.

Abe, 67, was delivering a stump speech with security present, but spectators were able to approach him fairly easily.

The suspect opened fire on Abe from behind with an apparently homemade gun as he spoke at a drab traffic island in the western city of Nara, Japanese media showed earlier.

Police said the shooting suspect, a 41-year-old unemployed man, admitted to shooting Abe. According to police, the suspect 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.

Abe was the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history. He stepped down as leader in 2020, citing health reasons.

The suspect approached Mr. Abe from behind and fired twice with what appeared to be an improvised firearm, according to witnesses, authorities and video footage. Mr. Abe had gunshot wounds near the base of his neck and one bullet pierced his heart, a doctor who treated him said.

Mr. Abe, who was 67 years old, was prime minister until late 2020 and was one of Japan’s best known but polarizing politicians. He was the de facto leader of the largest faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and wielded strong influence in the government despite standing down as prime minister in September 2020.

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