The former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, was shot during an election campaign event on Friday with what reports say was a “homemade shotgun”.
Japanese national broadcaster NHK TV has reported the 67-year-old is dead, having gone into heart failure following the attack in the city of Nara.
Police arrested a male suspect at the scene of the shooting.
Public broadcaster NHK TV aired footage showing Abe collapsed on the street, with several security guards running towards him. He was bleeding and holding his chest.
The shooting has made headlines around the world, creating shockwaves in a country considered one of the world’s safest – with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere.
Abe, a popular former leader, was still influential in the governing Liberal Democratic Party and headed its largest faction, Seiwakai.
Current PM Fumio Kishida said a few hours after the shooting that the former prime minister was in “grave condition”, and condemned the attack in the strongest terms.
He added: “Everything that can be done is being done to revive him. I’m praying from the depths of my heart that his life will be saved.”
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno spoke to media after the attack, condemning the “barbaric act” and saying that a man who appeared to fire the gunshot had been arrested.
British politicians reacted with shock at the shooting of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, with Boris Johnson saying he was “utterly appalled” at the news.
The Prime Minister tweeted: “Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also said that she was “devastated” at the shooting.
She tweeted: “Devastated to hear about the attack on former Prime Minister Abe. We stand with our Japanese friends at this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “dark day”, tweeting: “Our hearts are with the family of Shinzo Abe and the Japanese people.
“A truly dark day.”
Leaders from the around the world also shared their prayers for the 67-year-old, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he was “deeply distressed” by news of the attack.
Singapore’s PM, Lee Hsien Loong, shared a post on Facebook describing the shooting as a “senseless act of violence”.
New Zealand’s leader Jacinda Ardern recalled Abe being one of the first world leaders she met “when I became Prime Minister”, adding: “Events like this shake us all to the core.”