In this combo image, Shinzo Abe makes a campaign speech in Nara, shortly before he was shot on Friday. Reuters / AFP / AP
As is typical in Japan, where violent crime is rare and guns are scarce, security appeared to be light on Friday morning as Abe spoke at an intersection outside the Yamato-Saidaiji Station in the western city of Nara.
Roads weren't blocked off and a bus and a van passed behind Abe's exposed back as he spoke to the crowd of a few hundred. Two helmeted riders on scooters turned in front of him. Inside a passing hatchback car, someone waved in excited recognition at Japan's longest-serving premier.
This account is based on footage obtained by Reuters and interviews with witnesses.
Shinzo Abe attends an election campaign, while a man (2nd R-behind) suspected of shooting Abe shortly after stands in the background. AFP
Dressed in a dark jacket despite the summer heat, Abe called on the crowd, many of them older, to re-elect Kei Sato, a candidate in Sunday's upper house election. Some snapped pictures with their phone or mopped their brows in the humidity.
A police officer detains a man, believed to have shot Shinzo Abe, in Nara. Reuters
Members of the special police, Japan's equivalent of the secret service, appeared to be standing at his right and behind him as the two-time prime minister told the crowd of Sato's pandemic response.
"He was the type of person who didn't look for reasons not to do something," Abe recalled. Behind him, a skinny man dressed in a grey t-shirt and beige cargo pants strode into the road and opened fire with what police later said was a homemade gun, sending a cloud of white smoke towards Abe and the crowd.
Shinzo Abe (C) on the ground after being shot while attending a campaign event in. AP
For a moment, Abe appeared unaffected. The man, identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old former member of Japan's maritime self-defence forces — the equivalent of Japan's navy —fired again.
Yamagami "came out of nowhere on to the middle of the road holding a gun," said businessman Makoto Ichikawa, who had been near the train station waiting for his wife.
"The first shot no one knew what was going on," Ichikawa said. After the second shot, Yamagami was tackled by the special police who pinned him down on the ground. His shirt rode up, exposing a black belt with a silver buckle. Like most people in the crowd, he wore a mask.
There was a pause of 10-20 seconds before Yamagami was tackled, said Takenobu Nakajima, who runs a printing company and was at the station to support the LDP.
A woman cries at the site where Abe was shot dead. Reuters
By then, Abe, 67, lay crumpled on the ground. Footage from media showed blood staining his crisp white shirt.
Ken Namikawa, the mayor of Nara's Tenri city, called out over a microphone asking if there were any doctors or nurses in the crowd. A nurse came running and joined the crowd of people attending to Abe.
At least one person administered heart massage.
A man who is believed to be Shinzo Abe is carried on a stretcher as he arrives at a hospital in Nara. Reuters
Doctors later said Abe bled to death from deep wounds to the heart and the right side of his neck, despite receiving more than 100 units of blood in transfusions over four hours.
Ichikawa said he was struck by Yamagami's face as he fired at the former premier. "It was just a normal expression," he said.
The incident sent shock waves through political circles and the general populace; Prime Minister Fumio Kishida slammed the shooting.
“We can’t deny that there were problems with the security plan given how things ended,” Nara prefectural police chief Tomoaki Onizuka told a news conference.
"We are deeply saddened to learn about the death of our dear friend Shinzo Abe who served his nation with honour and contributed to strengthening the fruitful relations between the UAE and Japan. We extend our sincere condolences to his family and the people of Japan."
Imran Khan, winner of the last election in 2018, remains in jail after being convicted in a graft case in August despite his three-year sentence being suspended by a court.
Classes were suspended in several cities in the capital region and in dozens of towns and cities in Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas provinces. The aviation authority on Friday told pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano's summit.
Sheikh Mohammed added: “I followed the interview of my brother, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, with Fox Channel...an interview that reflected the strength of achievement in the Kingdom, and the accuracy of the vision adopted by His Highness...
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed said on the X platform: “The broadcast interview with my brother Mohammed Bin Salman was a testament to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's remarkable transformation and long record of achievement. United by our shared success story, the UAE and Saudi Arabia stand together in empowering generations to come.”