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Former Japan PM Shinzo Abe unconscious after shooting; man in custody

July 7, 2022 Updated Thu., July 7, 2022 at 9:40 p.m.

By Ryotaro Nakamaru Bloomberg

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was unconscious and unresponsive after he was apparently shot in the chest during a political event in the western city of Nara on Friday, national broadcaster NHK and local media reports said.

Abe, 67, was apparently shot in the chest, national broadcaster NHK said, adding a man had been apprehended at the scene. The suspect appeared to be a young or middle-aged man, an NHK reporter said.

Abe was rushed to a hospital and unconscious after the attack. He may have gone into cardiac arrest, Kyodo News reported, citing local firefighters.

Japan is a country with some of the strictest gun laws among leading economies and shootings are rare.

The yen gained with U.S. Treasuries after the news broke, as investors reflexively sought havens. Japan’s currency traded 0.4% higher at around 135.50 per dollar at noon Tokyo time. Nikkei 225 futures erased gains after news of Abe’s collapse.

Abe’s record-setting run as prime minister before he resigned in 2020 brought stability to Japan after a revolving door of six administrations, including a previous stint by him. He helped Japan escape from a cycle of deflation, endured a Trump administration that questioned the nation’s only military alliance, and worked to improve ties with its biggest trading partner China, which were at their most hostile in decades when he took office.

Abe is perhaps best known for his plans to revive Japan’s flagging economy through unprecedented monetary easing and regulatory reform that was eventually labeled “Abenomics.”

He has been seen as a steady hand who has consolidated power during his record run and been able to overcome scandals, including one that came to light in 2017 over questionable government land allocations for schools provided to associates of Abe and his wife, Akie.

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