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.

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In the once-prosperous cotton town of Heywood in the north west of England, Boris Johnson’s misdemeanours were wearily taken as read on the day of his resignation. The more pressing concern was about what happens next. “That, I think, is actually the problem,” said consultancy services manager Samantha Bamforth, checking her phone outside the Heywood Fish Bar moments before Johnson announced that he was quitting as leader of the Conservative party. “Nobody is good. If he goes, who is going to backfill him? What are their values? What is the public opinion of them? There’s a lot going on right now, not just in this country, but the world. Who’s equipped to deal with it?”

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.

Among them was the ratification of the Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, which created new opportunities for Australian businesses in Japan.

He was a tireless champion for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has brought huge benefits to Australia.

He elevated our bilateral relationship to a special strategic partnership. Under his longstanding advocacy, the closer links between the two nations we have, increased defence cooperation including through the recently signed reciprocal access agreement.

 

Shinzo Abe and former Australian PM Tony Abbott at a press conference in Parliament House, Canberra in 2014. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian© Provided by The Guardian Shinzo Abe and former Australian PM Tony Abbott at a press conference in Parliament House, Canberra in 2014. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Mr Abe understood instinctively the values that Australia and Japan share of democracy and human rights and the shared interest we have in bolstering the global rules-based order.

His vision transcended political cycles. It was eight years ago yesterday – the 8 July 2014 that he addressed both houses of the Australian parliament. An historic address.

Elon Musk announced Friday that he will abandon his tumultuous $44 billion offer to buy Twitter after the company failed to provide enough information about the number of fake accounts. Twitter immediately fired back, saying it would sue the Tesla CEO to uphold the deal.

In response, the chair of Twitter’s board, Bret Taylor, tweeted that the board is “committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon” with Musk and “plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement. We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery.”

The trial court in Delaware frequently handles business disputes among the many corporations, including Twitter, that are incorporated there.

Former President Donald Trump weighed in on his own social platform, Truth Social: “THE TWITTER DEAL IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE ‘TRUTH’”. Musk said in May that he would allow Trump, who was banned from Twitter following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, back onto the platform.

Much of the drama surrounding the deal has played out on Twitter, with Musk — who has more than 100 million followers — lamenting that the company was failing to live up to its potential as a platform for free speech.

On Friday, shares of Twitter fell 5% to $36.81, well below the $54.20 that Musk agreed to pay. Shares of Tesla, meanwhile, climbed 2.5% to $752.29. After the market closed and Musk’s letter was published, Twitter’s stock continued to decline while Tesla climbed higher.

“This is a disaster scenario for Twitter and its board,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note to investors. He predicted a long court fight by Twitter to either restore the deal or get the $1 billion breakup fee.

On Thursday, Twitter sought to shed more light on how it counts spam accounts in a briefing with journalists and company executives. Twitter said it removes 1 million spam accounts each day. The accounts represent well below 5% of its active user base each quarter.

The likely unraveling of the acquisition was just the latest twist in a saga between the world’s richest man and one of the most influential social media platforms, and it may portend a titanic legal battle ahead.

Twitter could have pushed for a $1 billion breakup fee that Musk agreed to pay under these circumstances. Instead, it looks ready to fight to complete the purchase, which the company’s board has approved and CEO Parag Agrawal has insisted he wants to consummate.

In a letter to Twitter’s board, Musk lawyer Mike Ringler complained that his client had for nearly two months sought data to judge the prevalence of “fake or spam” accounts on the social media platform.

He spoke frankly about the horrors of the second world war and conveyed with the greatest sincerity condolences towards the many who lost their lives. Four years later, in 2018, he was the first Japanese leader to visit Darwin and to lay a memorial wreath while he was there.

Mr Abe was a great statesman who made a difference. His vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific has a profound effect on regional and global security and informing the Quad.

Anthony Albanese pays tribute to Shinzo Abe as ‘a true patriot and a true leader’

03:30

Prime minister Anthony Albanese is speaking to reporters about the shock of the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe:

 

It is hard to believe we are speaking about Shinzo Abe in the past tense. I have had a little while to process the information but, like I think many people around the world, I am still in shock at this news.

Japan has lost a true patriot and a true leader. And Australia has lost a true friend. Friendship that Mr Abe offered Australia was warm in sentiment and profound in consequence.

During his time as prime minister no one was more committed to furthering relations between our two nations. He visited Australia no less than five times as the prime minister of Japan.

 

Anthony Albanese pays tribute to Shinzo Abe during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP© Provided by The Guardian Anthony Albanese pays tribute to Shinzo Abe during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

03:05

Albanese: Abe death ‘mightn’t be the last’ political assassination

Anthony Albanese has described the cruelty of the loss of the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, and expressed fears that such a sudden loss of a world leader “mightn’t be the last”:

 

Mr Abe was not destined to be prime minister in easy times but even as the world shifted beneath our feet, Mr Abe faced all of the challenges with a strength of character and an unbending resolve.

He did not flinch, he did not weaken. And that is the cruel paradox of the tragedy that unfolded yesterday. That someone of such courage, with such strength of character, could be taken away with an act of extreme cowardice.

It is not the first time we have seen this grim occasion play out, and I fear that it mightn’t be the last.

 

Albanese said the shooting of Abe was an “attack on our democracy” but it wouldn’t undermine the “precious democracy” he had helped to protect and build.

 

The precious democracy that you have built is stronger than this. The values that we share and that hold our societies together are stronger than this.

A hand that is raised in violence can never overpower what so many hands have built in peace. Likewise, this low act of cruelty will not overshadow a life that was lived with such high purpose.

For Mr Abe’s family and to his loving wife, I extend the sincerest condolences of the Australian people along with the warmth and their enduring gratitude.

While the people of Japan deal with this profound loss, they know this. Mr Abe’s life was one of consequence.

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.

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.

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