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Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shot dead

[Shinzo Abe during an address in a past event.Photo/courtesy]

Former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe, one of Japan’s most influential politicians in modern times, has died after being shot at a campaign event.

Abe has been confirmed dead at the hospital, public broadcaster NHK and the Jiji news agency reported.

“According to a senior LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) official, former prime minister Abe died at a hospital in Kashihara city, Nara region, where he was receiving medical treatment. He was 67,” NHK said.

A conservative nationalist by most descriptions, the 67-year-old remains the country’s longest-serving prime minister and has led the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to victory twice.

His first stint as PM was brief – for over a year starting in 2006 – and marred in scandal. But he made a political comeback in 2012 and stayed in power until 2020 when he resigned for health reasons.

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 the 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.

After initially suggesting he was stepping down for political reasons, he acknowledged he was suffering an ailment later diagnosed as ulcerative colitis.

Chinese officials have expressed shock at the shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The country’s officials extended condolences to Abe’s family and “hopes he will be out of danger and recover soon”, a foreign ministry spokesman told a daily briefing in Beijing.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply distressed by the attack” and described Abe as a “dear friend”.

In Australia, PM Anthony Albanese said his country’s “thoughts are with [Abe’s] family and the people of Japan at this time”.

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s PM, shared a post on Facebook, describing the shooting as a “senseless act of violence”. He also described Abe as “a good friend of Singapore”.

New Zealand’s leader Jacinda Ardern recalled Abe being one of the first world leaders she met “when I became Prime Minister”. And she said: “Events like this shake us all to the core.”