Mainstream Japanese media has gone into full all-hands-on-deck mode following the shooting of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Most of the major networks, including public broadcast giant NHK, and the private sector NTV, TBS, Fuji and TV Asahi channels, have ditched their schedules to cover the shooting. The NTV and TBS CS (communications satellite) news channels are also airing non-stop coverage. TV Tokyo, a terrestrial channel that is a frequent counter-programmer, is sticking to its regular lineup. Print media, including the Yomiuri Shimbun, have also rushed out special editions.
Abe was speaking on the street at a campaign stop for a Liberal Democratic Party candidate in Nara Prefecture at around 11:30 am local time. Japan is holding a nationwide election for the upper house of parliament.
Phone images from spectators present at the event are appearing on national television, including NHK. But broadcasters are not showing the actual moment of the shooting, when Abe was felled by what appeared to have been two shots. That may be due to the jerky reaction of the person using a smartphone as a camera when the bullets hit.
Footage from immediately before and after Abe was felled by the shots is being aired, however, indicating his collapse to the ground are not included.
Smoke from the gun can been seen in the ‘before’ footage and people gather around the fallen Abe can be viewed in the ‘after’ footage.
Other amateur footage appears to show the moment the gun was fired. But NHK’s broadcast cuts away before Abe falls to the ground.
Later, other cell phone images emerged of the shooter standing just three metres (approximately 10 feet) behind Abe as he spoke. Security at the event, largely provided by the local police force, rather than a specialist protective detail, has quickly been criticized.
An NHK reporter on the scene captured security police subduing the apparent shooter, a 41-year-old man, Yamagami Tetsuya, and seizing his weapon, which appears to be a handmade gun.
The shooter is being questioned by police, but his motives remain unknown.
NHK has been the only channel to cover live footage of current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s press conference about the shooting.
NHK is also reporting the foreign reaction to the shooting, including reports on CNN and Reuters, as well as reaction of ruling LDP and opposition politicians.