Japan's assassinated leader Abe honored at divisive state funeral
Japan's assassinated hawkish former leader, Shinzo Abe, was given a rare state funeral Tuesday that was full of military pomp and surrounded by throngs of mourners as well as by widespread protests, with thousands taking to the streets in opposition. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the publicly financed ceremony was a well-deserved honor for Japan's longest-serving modern political leader, but it has deeply split public opinion. The event was attended by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Japanese Crown Prince Akishino and other foreign and Japanese dignitaries. It began with Abe's widow, Akie Abe, in a black formal kimono, walking slowly behind Kishida into the funeral venue, carrying an urn in a wooden box wrapped in a purple cloth with gold stripes. Soldiers in white uniforms took Abe’s ashes and placed them on a pedestal filled with white and yellow chrysanthemums and decorations. Attendants stood while a military band played the Kimigayo national anthem, then observed a moment of silence before a video was shown praising Abe's life in politics. It included his 2006 parliamentary speech vowing to build a “beautiful Japan," his visits to disaster-hit northern Japan after the March 2011 tsunami and his 2016 Super Mario impersonation in Rio de Janeiro to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Kishida, in a 12-minute eulogy, praised Abe as a politician with a clear vision for post-World War II economic growth who promoted national security, the development of Japan and the world, and a “free and open Indo-Pacific” as a counter to China's rise. “You were a person who should have lived much longer,” Kishida said as he looked up at a massive photo of Abe. “I had a firm belief that you would contribute as a compass showing the future direction of Japan and the rest of the world for 10 or 20 more years." Kishida said Abe will be remembered not just as the nation's longest-serving leader but for what he achieved, and he pledged to carry on Abe's policies for Japan and the region. During the ceremony, Harris sat in the third row next to Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, and they later joined others by placing a branch of chrysanthemums on a table near Abe's photo. Abe was cremated in July following a private funeral at a Tokyo temple days after he was assassinated while giving a campaign speech on a street in Nara in western Japan. Tokyo was under high security for the state funeral, especially near the venue, the Budokan martial arts hall. At a protest in downtown Tokyo, thousands of people marched toward the hall, some banging drums and many shouting or holding banners and signs stating their opposition. “Shinzo Abe has not done a single thing for regular people,” participant Kaoru Mano said. Japan’s main political opposition parties boycotted the funeral, which critics say was a reminder of how prewar imperialist governments used state funerals to fan nationalism. The government maintains that the ceremony was not meant to force anyone to honor Abe. But the decision to give him the rare honor, which was made without parliamentary debate or approval, the high cost and other controversies have led to anger about the event. Kishida has also been criticized because of a widening controversy over decades of close ties between Abe and the governing Liberal Democratic Party with the Unification Church, accused of raking in huge donations by brainwashing adherents. The suspect in Abe’s assassination reportedly told police he killed Abe because of his links to the church, which he said took large amounts of money from his mother, bankrupting his family and ruining his life. “The fact that the close ties between the LDP and the Unification Church may have interfered with policymaking processes is seen by the Japanese people as a greater threat to democracy than Abe’s assassination,” Hosei University political science professor Jiro Yamaguchi wrote in a recent article. Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped the South Korean-based church take root in Japan and is now seen as a key figure in the scandal. Opponents say holding a state funeral for Abe is equivalent to an endorsement of the governing party’s ties to the church. “One big problem is that there was no proper approval process,” retiree Shin Watanabe said during the demonstration Tuesday. “I’m sure there are various views. But I don’t think it’s forgivable that they will force a state funeral on us when so many of us are opposed.” Outside the Budokan hall, thousands of people carrying bouquets queued for several blocks to lay flowers in a nearby park. “I'm emotionally attached to him and I've been supporting the LDP, too," Masayuki Aoki, a 70-year-old business owner, said, recalling that he shared a fist bump with Abe at a campaign stop in Yokohama days before his assassination. “I came to offer him flowers." In what some see as an attempt to further justify the honor for Abe, Kishida has held meetings this week with visiting foreign leaders in what he calls “funeral diplomacy.” The talks are meant to strengthen ties as Japan faces regional and global challenges, including threats from China, Russia and North Korea. He was to meet about 40 foreign leaders through Wednesday, though no Group of Seven leaders are attending.
Japan PM blames police for death of former leader Shinzo Abe
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday blamed inadequate police security for the death of former leader Shinzo Abe, who was shot while giving an outdoor campaign speech. Abe, one of Japan’s most influential politicians, was assassinated last Friday in western Japan, shocking a nation known for its low crime rate. Photos and videos of the shooting show the gunman was able to come close to Abe. Read: Japanese say final goodbye to former leader Abe at funeral A suspect was arrested at the spot and is being detained for questioning. Police and media reports say he told investigators that a rumored link between Abe and a religious group the suspect hated was the reason he killed the former prime minister.
Japanese say final goodbye to former leader Abe at funeral
Japanese bid their final goodbye to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday as a family funeral was held at a temple days after his assassination that shocked the nation. Abe, the country's longest-serving prime minister who remained influential even after he stepped down two years ago, was gunned down Friday during a campaign speech in the western city of Nara. Hundreds of people, some in formal dark suits, filled pedestrian walks outside of the Zojoji temple in downtown Tokyo to bid farewell to Abe, whose nationalistic views drove the governing party's ultraconservative policies. Mourners waved, took photos on their smartphones, and some called out “Abe san!” as a motorcade including a hearse carrying his body, accompanied by his widow slowly drove by the packed crowd. Akie Abe was seen lowering her head to the crowd. Read: Key moments in life of Shinzo Abe, former Japanese leader Only she and other close family members, as well as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and senior party leaders, attended the funeral at the temple. The hearse made a tour of Tokyo's main political headquarters of Nagata-cho, where Abe spent more than three decades since he was first elected in 1991. It then drove slowly by the party headquarters, where senior party lawmakers in dark suits stood outside and prayed, before heading to the prime minister's office, where Abe served a total of nearly a decade. Kishida and his Cabinet members pressed their hands before their chest as they prayed and bowed to Abe's body inside before the hearse headed to a crematorium. On Sunday, two days after Abe's shocking death, his governing Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner won a landslide victory in the upper house, the less powerful of Japan's two-chamber parliament. That could allow Kishida to govern uninterrupted until a scheduled election in 2025, but the loss of Abe also opened up a period of uncertainly for his party. Experts say a power struggle within the party faction Abe led is certain and could affect Kishida's grip on power. Kishida has stressed the importance of party unity after Abe's death. In a country where gun crime is vanishingly rare, Abe’s shooting also shook the nation known as the world's safest and have some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Read: Abe’s complicated legacy looms large for current Japan PM The suspect, Tetsyua Yamagami, was arrested on the spot Friday and is being detained at a local prosecutors’ office for further investigation. They can detain him for up to three weeks while deciding whether to formally press charges. On Tuesday, public security chief Satoshi Ninoyu told reporters he has instructed the National Police Agency to investigate security for political and business leaders. Abe, the son of an earlier prime minister, became Japan's youngest prime minister in 2006 at age 52. He left after a year in office due to health reasons but returned to power in 2012. He vowed to revitalize the nation and get its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms. His long-cherished goals, held by other ultraconservatives, were to revise Japan's pacifist constitution drafted by the United States during its postwar and to transform Japan's Self Defense Force to a full-fledged military. Abe became Japan's longest-serving leader before leaving office in 2020, citing a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis he'd had since he was a teenager. He was 67.
Momen recalls Shinzo Abe's role in developing Dhaka-Tokyo comprehensive relations
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had played a very significant role in developing comprehensive relations with Bangladesh. "We have developed a very warm relationship which helped Japan to come forward in implementing mega projects in Bangladesh," Momen said recalling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Japan and a return visit by Abe in Dhaka. The foreign minister made the remarks after signing the condolence book at the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka. Read: Japan ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated while giving speech
Key moments in life of Shinzo Abe, former Japanese leader
Shinzo Abe was born into a prominent political family and became Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He was credited with instilling political and economic stability though he angered Japan’s neighbors South Korea and China — along with many Japanese — with his nationalistic rhetoric and calls to revise the country’s pacifist constitution. Abe, 67, was shot to death Friday at a campaign event in western Japan. Here is a look at key moments in his life and career: — Sept. 21, 1954: Abe is born in Tokyo, the son of Shintaro Abe, who served as Japan’s foreign minister, and grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, a former prime minister. — 1977: Graduates from Seikei University in Tokyo with a degree in political science, after which he moves to the U.S. to study public policy at the University of Southern California for three semesters. — 1979: Begins working at Kobe Steel as the firm was expanding its presence abroad. — 1982: Leaves the company to pursue new positions at the Foreign Ministry and with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. — 1993: First elected as an LDP legislator representing the southwestern prefecture of Yamaguchi. Abe, already viewed as a conservative, becomes a member of and eventually leads the party’s largest faction, Seiwakai, that had once been headed by his father, who died in 1991. — 2005: Abe is appointed chief cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, during which he leads negotiations to return Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea. The same year, he is elected head of the LDP, putting him in line to take over as prime minister. — Sept. 26, 2006: Abe becomes Japan’s prime minister for the first time, overseeing economic reforms while taking a hard line on North Korea and seeking to engage with South Korea and China. — 2007: Following electoral defeats that saw the LDP lose control of the legislature for the first time in 52 years, Abe resigns as prime minister, citing health reasons. Abe has been suffering from ulcerative colitis but was able to control it with medication. — 2012: After again being elected LDP president, Abe becomes prime minister for the second time. — 2013: Seeking to boost growth, Abe launches his “Abenomics” policies featuring easy lending and structural reforms. Japan’s relations with China undergo a particularly rough patch but begin to improve after Abe meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Beijing. — 2014-2020: Reelected LDP leader, he serves two additional terms as prime minister for a total of four, during which he develops close relations with then-president Donald Trump, holding summits and golfing together. Read: Japan ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated while giving speech — Aug. 28, 2020: Announces he will step down as prime minister, again citing health reasons, after his ulcerative colitis flares up again. By that point, Abe had already become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. — Nov. 30, 2021: Despite leaving office, Abe shows he can still rile up Beijing with comments on Taiwan, the self-governing island China claims as its own territory and threatens to attack. In a speech, Abe warned that “military adventure would lead to economic suicide.”
Abe’s complicated legacy looms large for current Japan PM
Assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was perhaps the most divisive leader in recent Japanese history, infuriating liberals with his revisionist views of history and his dreams of military expansion. He was also the longest serving and, by many estimations, the most influential. For current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, this complicated legacy will loom large as he considers taking up his mentor’s unachieved policy goals after a big win for their ruling Liberal Democratic Party in parliamentary elections Sunday, just days after Abe’s death. Kishida has gained considerable political strength, riding a surge of emotion and vows of resilience from voters after the assassination, but he’s also lost the most powerful force in his party — Abe. “Kishida now faces an increasingly murky political situation,” the liberal-leaning Asahi newspaper said in an editorial. “The death of Abe, who headed the largest LDP wing, will certainly change the party’s power balance.” Kishida made his immediate priorities clear after the election: “Party unity is more important than anything else.” Also read: Abe’s killing haunts Japan with questions on handmade guns But he must also make quick progress on growing worries over rising prices and a stagnant economy even as he tries to figure out how to boost Japan’s defense in the face of an aggressive China, Russia and North Korea. And then there’s Abe’s polarizing nationalistic agenda, much of which was left unfinished, including his attempts to boost patriotism in schools, to revoke the apologies made in the 1990s over Japanese aggression during the war and the controversial and divisive plan to revise Japan’s war-renouncing constitution to give the military more power. How Kishida deals with Abe’s still considerable political presence may determine his success as leader. At the heart of Abe’s lingering influence — he left the top job in 2020 — is a paradox. He alienated many in Japan, as well as war victims China and the Koreas, with his hawkish foreign and security policies, as well as his ultraconservative — sometimes revisionist — stance on the so-called history issues related to Japan’s wartime actions. Abe pushed back against post-World War II treaties and the verdicts of the tribunal that judged Japanese war criminals and was a driving force in efforts to whitewash military atrocities and end apologies over the war. The Japanese electorate, however, carried him to power in six elections. And his work to strengthen the alliance with the United States and to unify like-minded democracies as a counterweight to China’s assertiveness endeared him to U.S. and European elites. His long grip on power even amid criticism over his more extreme views can be explained by voters’ desire for stability and an improved economy, Abe’s stranglehold on the conservative wing of his party and the haplessness of the opposition. His first period as prime minister, which began in 2006, ended in failure after a year, partly because of a backlash to his nationalist policy goals. After three years of opposition rule, a rare interruption in decades of LDP dominance, Abe returned to power with a landslide victory in 2012. “After his first stint failed, he learned that his nationalistic agenda of building a ‘beautiful nation’ cannot move forward unless he has another agenda to balance it out, like two wheels of a cart,” said Koichi Nakano, a Sophia University professor of international politics. While still chipping away at enacting his nationalist policies, Nakano said, Abe also began championing economic revitalization and compromised on issues such as promoting women’s advancement and accepting unskilled foreign labor to help boost a dwindling workforce — moves that allowed him to be seen as a realist. He understood in his second term that “he needed to improve his narrative and policy focus on the economy. He convinced much of the public that ‘Abenomics’ was a necessary reform path,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. Abe also “exercised institutional discipline over the government bureaucracy and his political party in ways that no opposition leader has yet been able to match.” Abe was the grandson of rightwing former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, which helped him win support from rightwing groups. He also was favored by younger people, experts say, many of whom are more conservative than their counterparts in other parts of the world because of their deep interest in a steady economy so they can get work at major companies. “It seems that voters preferred the stability Abe promised over the disorganized leadership that the (opposition party) provided” during its three years in power, said Jeffrey Hall, a professor at Kanda University of International Studies specializing in Japanese politics and nationalism. “To international observers, Abe’s support for historical revisionism looms larger than it did for domestic voters.” While Abe’s eagerness to boost Japan’s military power was more than most Japanese citizens wanted, according to Easley, “he was right about Tokyo having to adjust to a challenging security environment that includes China, Russia and North Korea.” Kishida enjoys something of a political mandate after Sunday’s election, and will likely be in office until scheduled elections in 2025. He has said he wants to explore ways to make more progress on Abe’s push for constitutional revision, but there’s no detail now about what, exactly, that means or how he’ll try to do it. Changing the constitution is a top party platform that Kishida will not want to risk, according to Ryosuke Nishida, a sociology professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, so he may delay the effort until he can forge a compromise with rightwing party members on the best way to proceed. “Abe was one of the strongest voices for constitutional revision and a more proactive security policy. Now that he is gone, others will try to fill his shoes, but it will be difficult,” Hall said.
Abe’s death raises security questions as Japan mourns
A top police official on Saturday acknowledged possible security lapses that allowed an assassin to fire his gun into former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while he was addressing a campaign rally, raising questions how could the attacker get so close behind him. Abe was shot in the western city of Nara on Friday and airlifted to a hospital but died of blood loss. Police arrested the attacker, a former member of Japan’s navy, at the scene. Police confiscated his homemade gun and several others were later found at his apartment. The attacker, Tetsuya Yamagami, told investigators he acted because he believed rumors that Abe was connected to an organization that he resents, police said. Japanese media reported that the man had developed hatred toward a religious group that his mother was obsessed about and that caused his family financial problems. The reports did not specify the group. On Saturday, a black hearse carrying Abe’s body and accompanied by his wife, Akie, arrived at his home in Tokyo’s upscale residential area of Shibuya. Many mourners, including top party officials, waited for his remains and lowered their heads as the vehicle passed. Nara prefectural police chief Tomoaki Onizuka said Abe’s assassination was his “greatest regret” in a 27-year career. “I cannot deny there were problems with our security,” Onizuka said. “Whether it was a setup, emergency response, or ability of individuals, we still have to find out. Overall, there was a problem and we will review it from every perspective.” Abe’s assassination ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary election shocked the nation and raised questions over whether security for the former prime minister was adequate. Some observers who watched videos of the attack noted a lack of attention in the open space behind Abe as he spoke. A former Kyoto prefectural police investigator, Fumikazu Higuchi, said the footage suggested security was sparse at the event and insufficient for a former prime minister. “It is necessary to investigate why security allowed Yamagami to freely move and go behind Mr. Abe,” Higuchi told a Nippon TV talk show. Experts also said Abe was more vulnerable standing on the ground level, instead of atop a campaign vehicle, which is usually the case but was reportedly unavailable due to his hastily arranged visit to Nara. Read: Japan's ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech “Looks like police were mainly focusing on frontward, while paying little attention to what’s behind Mr. Abe, and nobody stopped the suspect approaching him,” said Mitsuru Fukuda, a crisis management professor at Nihon University. “Clearly there were problems.” Fukuda said that election campaigns provide a chance for voters and politicians to interact because “political terrorism” was extremely rare in postwar Japan. But Abe’s assassination could prompt stricter security at crowded events like campaigns, sports games and others. During a parliamentary debate in 2015, Abe resisted suggestions by an opposition lawmaker to beef up his security, insisting that “Japan is a safe country.” In videos circulating on social media, the 41-year-old Yamagami can be seen standing only a few meters (yards) behind Abe across a busy street, and continuously glancing around. A few minutes after Abe stood at the podium and started his speech — as a local party candidate and their supporters stood and waved to the crowd — Yamagami can be seen taking his gun out of a bag, walking toward Abe and firing the first shot, which released a cloud of smoke, but the projectile apparently missed Abe. As Abe turned to see where the noise came from, a second shot went off. That bullet apparently hit Abe’s left arm, missing a bulletproof briefcase raised by a security guard who stood behind him. Abe fell to the ground, with his left arm tucked in as if to cover his chest. Campaign organizers shouted through loudspeakers asking for medical experts to provide first-aid to Abe. His heart and breathing had stopped by the time he was airlifted to a hospital, where he later pronounced dead. Police on Saturday said autopsy results showed that a bullet that entered Abe’s upper left arm damaged arteries beneath both collar bones, causing fatal massive bleeding. According to the Asahi newspaper, Yamagami was a contract worker at a warehouse in Kyoto, operating a forklift. He was described as a quiet person who did not mingle with colleagues. A next-door neighbor at his apartment told Asahi he never met Yamagami, though he recalled hearing noises like a saw being used several times late at night over the past month. Read: Assassination of Japan’s Shinzo Abe stuns world leaders Japan is particularly known for its strict gun laws. With a population of 125 million, it had only 10 gun-related criminal cases last year, eight of then gang-related. Even though he was out of office, Abe was still highly influential in the governing Liberal Democratic Party and headed its largest faction. But his ultra-nationalist views made him a divisive figure to many. Abe stepped down two years ago blaming a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis he’d had since he was a teenager. He said he regretted leave many of his goals unfinished, especially his failure to resolve the issue of Japanese abducted years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia, and a revision of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution. That ultra-nationalism riled the Koreas and China, and his push to create what he saw as a more normal defense posture angered many Japanese liberals. Abe failed to achieve his cherished goal of formally rewriting the U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution because of poor public support. Loyalists said his legacy was a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship that was meant to bolster Japan’s defense capability. Abe divided the public by forcing his defense goals and other contentious issues through parliament. Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who early on had a frosty relationship with Abe, sent a condolence message to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday, a day after most other world leaders issued their statements. Xi credited Abe with making efforts to improve China-Japan relations and said he and Abe had reached an important understanding on building better ties, according to a statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry website. He also told Kishida he is willing to work with him to continue to develop neighborly and cooperative relations. Abe was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military through security alliance with the United States and bigger role in international affairs. He became Japan’s youngest prime minister in 2006, at age 52, but his overly nationalistic first stint abruptly ended a year later, also because of his health, prompting six years of annual leadership change. He returned to office in 2012, vowing to revitalize the nation and getting its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms. He won six national elections and built a rock-solid grip on power.
Shinzo Abe was a true friend of Bangladesh: GM Quader
Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Saturday expressed deep shock over the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In a condolence message, he said’ “The late Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe was a true friend of Bangladesh.” Under his leadership, the Jatiya Party chief said Japan became a unique development partner of Bangladesh. Also read: Bangladesh observing state mourning paying respect to Abe “The news of the death of such a genuine friend of Bangladesh can’t be accepted,” said GM Quader, also the deputy opposition leader in parliament. He also condemned the murder of the former Japanese Prime Minister. The Jatiya Party chairman prayed for the peace of the departed soul of the late Prime Minister of Japan. He also expressed his sympathy to the bereaved people of Japan. Meanwhile, Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu also expressed deep sorrow over the death of Shinzo Abe. Shinzo Abe, 67, died after being shot while giving a campaign speech in Japan on Friday. Abe immediately collapsed and was seen bleeding before he was taken to hospital. The attack on Abe and his subsequent death shocked the entire world. Bangladesh is observing state mourning today (July 9) showing deep respect to Japan's longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe to be remembered with great respect, admiration: BGMEA
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has said assassination of Shinzo Abe is a tragedy not only for Japan but also for Bangladesh and the whole world as well. "We are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden death of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe," said BGMEA President Faruque Hassan in a message on Saturday. Shinzo Abe, a great statesman, had immense contributions to strengthening relation between Bangladesh and Japan and taking it to a new height. Also read: Abe's body arrives in Tokyo as country mourns ex-PM's death "He will be remembered with great respect and admiration for the role he had played and the contribution he had made," said the BGMEA President. He said with Abe's death they have lost a true friend and great ally to Bangladesh. On behalf of the BGMEA and the RMG industry of Bangladesh, the BGMEA chief expressed their deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to his family and people of Japan. Japan has been a long-standing friend of Bangladesh in its journey towards development and the time-tested friendship has grown stronger and warmer over the years, he said. The BGMEA President said 2022 is a milestone year for the partnership as Japan and Bangladesh are celebrating 50 years of establishing diplomatic relations. As a major development partner for Bangladesh, he said Japan is extending support to the efforts of Bangladesh for its economic and social development. Also read: Bangladesh observing state mourning paying respect to Abe The Matarbari deep-sea port and power plant, the metro rail in Dhaka city and the building of the third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport are some of the game-changing projects of Bangladesh that are supported by Japan and bear testimony to a trusted partnership.
Japan's ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere. The 67-year-old Abe, who was Japan’s longest-serving leader when he resigned in 2020, collapsed bleeding and was airlifted to a nearby hospital in Nara, although he was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was later pronounced dead after receiving massive blood transfusions, officials said. A hearse carrying Abe's body left the hospital early Saturday to head back to his home in Tokyo. Abe's wife Akie lowered her head as the vehicle passed before a crowd of journalists. Nara Medical University emergency department chief Hidetada Fukushima said Abe suffered major damage to his heart, along with two neck wounds that damaged an artery. He never regained his vital signs, Fukushima said. Police at the shooting scene arrested Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a former member of Japan's navy, on suspicion of murder. Police said he used a gun that was obviously homemade — about 15 inches (40 centimeters) long — and they confiscated similar weapons and his personal computer when they raided his nearby one-room apartment. Police said Yamagami was responding calmly to questions and had admitted to attacking Abe, telling investigators he had plotted to kill him because he believed rumors about the former leader's connection to a certain organization that police did not identify. Read: PM conveys condolences at losing 'statesman' Abe Dramatic video from broadcaster NHK showed Abe standing and giving a speech outside a train station ahead of Sunday's parliamentary election. As he raised his fist to make a point, two gunshots rang out, and he collapsed holding his chest, his shirt smeared with blood as security guards ran toward him. Guards then leapt onto the gunman, who was face down on the pavement, and a double-barreled weapon was seen nearby. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Cabinet ministers hastily returned to Tokyo from campaign events elsewhere after the shooting, which he called “dastardly and barbaric." He pledged that the election, which chooses members for Japan's less-powerful upper house of parliament, would go on as planned. “I use the harshest words to condemn (the act),” Kishida said, struggling to control his emotions. He said the government would review the security situation, but added that Abe had the highest protection. Even though he was out of office, Abe was still highly influential in the governing Liberal Democratic Party and headed its largest faction, Seiwakai, but his ultra-nationalist views made him a divisive figure to many. Opposition leaders condemned the attack as a challenge to Japan’s democracy. Kenta Izumi, head of the top opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, called it “an act of terrorism” and said it "tried to quash the freedom of speech ... actually causing a situation where (Abe’s) speech can never be heard again.” In Tokyo, people stopped to buy extra editions of newspapers or watch TV coverage of the shooting. Flowers were placed at the shooting scene in Nara. When he resigned as prime minister, Abe blamed a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis he'd had since he was a teenager. He said then it was difficult to leave many of his goals unfinished, especially his failure to resolve the issue of Japanese abducted years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia, and a revision of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution. Also read: Shinzo Abe, powerful former Japan PM, leaves divided legacy That ultra-nationalism riled the Koreas and China, and his push to create what he saw as a more normal defense posture angered many Japanese. Abe failed to achieve his cherished goal of formally rewriting the U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution because of poor public support. Loyalists said his legacy was a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship that was meant to bolster Japan’s defense capability. But Abe made enemies by forcing his defense goals and other contentious issues through parliament, despite strong public opposition. Abe was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military and bigger role in international affairs. Tributes to Abe poured in from world leaders, with many expressing shock and sorrow. U.S. President Joe Biden praised him, saying "his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific will endure. Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service.“ On Saturday, Biden called Kishida and expressed outrage, sadness and deep condolences on the shooting death of Abe. Biden noted the importance of Abe's legacy including through the establishment of the Quad meetings of Japan, the U.S., Australia and India. Biden voiced confidence in the strength of Japan’s democracy and the two leaders discussed how Abe's legacy will live on as the two allies continue to defend peace and democracy, according to the White House. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose tenure from 2005-21 largely overlapped with Abe’s, said she was devastated by the “cowardly and vile assassination.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Saturday a day of national mourning for Abe, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he would remember him for “his collegiality & commitment to multilateralism.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian declined to comment, other than to say Beijing offered sympathies to Abe’s family and that the shooting shouldn’t be linked to bilateral relations. But social media posts from the country were harsh, with some calling the gunman a “hero” — reflecting strong sentiment against right-wing Japanese politicians who question or deny that Japan’s military committed wartime atrocities in China. Biden, who is dealing with a summer of mass shootings in the U.S., also said “gun violence always leaves a deep scar on the communities that are affected by it.” Japan is particularly known for its strict gun laws. With a population of 125 million, it had only 10 gun-related criminal cases last year, resulting in one death and four injuries, according to police. Eight of those cases were gang-related. Tokyo had no gun incidents, injuries or deaths in the same year, although 61 guns were seized. Abe was proud of his work to strengthen Japan's security alliance with the U.S. and shepherding the first visit by a serving U.S. president, Barack Obama, to the atom-bombed city of Hiroshima. He also helped Tokyo gain the right to host the 2020 Olympics by pledging that a disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant was “under control” when it was not. He became Japan’s youngest prime minister in 2006, at age 52, but his overly nationalistic first stint abruptly ended a year later, also because of his health. The end of Abe’s scandal-laden first stint as prime minister was the beginning of six years of annual leadership change, remembered as an era of “revolving door” politics that lacked stability. When he returned to office in 2012, Abe vowed to revitalize the nation and get its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms. He won six national elections and built a rock-solid grip on power, bolstering Japan’s defense role and capability and its security alliance with the U.S. He also stepped up patriotic education at schools and raised Japan’s international profile.