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The ex-Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is said to be unresponsive after he was shot in the chest during a speech.
The 67-year-old collapsed to the ground at around 11:30am local time (3:30am UK time) on Friday (July 8), in the city of Nara in western Japan, after two shots were heard.
According to Kyodo News, the former PM is in cardio-respiratory arrest and unconscious.
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Witnesses said that he was shot from behind, by a distance of about three metres, with an open wound to the neck.
He had been standing while making an election campaign speech ahead of Sunday's (July 10) election for the parliament's upper house.
Onlookers added that he remained standing after the first shot and then collapsed to the ground following the second.
CPR was carried out at the scene before Mr Abe was rushed to hospital via helicopter, with officials saying that his condition is "extremely serious".
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The gun has been recovered from the scene and a 42-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Mr Abe served two terms as PM – from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020 – to become Japan's longest-serving premier before stepping down citing ill health.
But he has remained a dominant presence over the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) party, controlling one of its major factions and his protege is none other than the current Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, who has suspended election campaigning and is returning to Tokyo.
At the same time, a crisis management committee has been set up at the government offices to manage the situation.
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