The US Department of Defense (DoD) has expressed sympathy for the “senseless murder” of Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. On Friday morning, while Abe was delivering a speech on the street in the city of Nara, he was gunned down by two separate shots.

Reports say that Abe had a heart attack while being flown to a nearby hospital and later died due to his injuries.

“The Department of Defense is stunned and deeply saddened by the senseless murder of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His killing is a tragedy for the people of Japan and for all those who value a free and open Indo-Pacific. As Prime Minister, Mr. Abe championed the vital and enduring alliance between our two democracies, paving the way for Japan to play an even larger role in our alliance,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement.

The Defense Secretary also said that Abe’s legacy is an Indo-Pacific region that is more “secure, stable, and prosperous.” Abe worked to build coalitions and relationships across the region, primarily through forums like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue of Japan, India, Australia, and the US.

Former Prime Minister @AbeShinzo and I recently met to discuss the essential role of the #USJapanAlliance in maintaining peace and prosperity in the free and open Indo-Pacific region. (Source: Office of U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

‘Assault on Democracy’

Austin said that the unfortunate incident that led to the former prime minister’s death has only contributed to heightening the profound feeling of loss that everyone felt and tagged the killing as an “assault on democracy.” He added that “a violent assault on peaceful democratic processes anywhere is an assault on democracy everywhere.”

“To him and his family, and to the people of Japan: please know that I and the entire Department of Defense stand with you as allies and friends in this time of shock and sorrow.”

The Japanese community has expressed outrage over the assassination plot, which they touted as “an act of terrorism.” The Japan Times said in its editorial that “the attack on former Prime Minister Abe in Nara on Friday is an attack on us all.”

The Attacker

When the assault happened, Prime Minister Abe was in the city of Nara, in the southern part of Japan, giving a campaign rally address for a political candidate at a traffic junction.