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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Has Been Assassinated; Labor Department To Release Critical June Jobs Report. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 08, 2022 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Figure out how to handle that. That was -- that was well played politically, right, as an elder statesman having hamburgers with the president, playing golf in Florida with the president in 2019. He managed that well.

I want to talk quickly -- and for those of you who are just checking in here -- just starting to view here, the former prime minister Shinzo Abe, of Japan, has been assassinated.

And this was a homemade gun it appears, Paula. And talk to us a little bit about just the rarity of gun violence in Japan. This is a shocking incident. When you look at video and pictures of what appears to be the weapon, it's clearly handmade. It's almost like two pipes wrapped together. It almost has the -- appears like a mobile pipe bomb and we know that it felled this leader.

Tell us a little bit about gun violence in the region.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very fact that the alleged assassin had to make this own gun tells you more than anything that I could tell you. The fact that it is so difficult -- almost impossible for a regular citizen to be able to buy a gun in Japan and to be able to have a license for a gun.

The checks are quite remarkable. For example, you have to have certain examinations. You have to pass an exam -- a written exam. They also have a personal and a mental health assessment before you are allowed to have a gun. There is a police check, for example, one you. There's mandatory training to make sure that you know how to use the gun and that you actually have the gun for a particular reason.

So it is extremely difficult for a regular citizen in Japan to be able to access this kind of weaponry, which is highly -- which shows -- because the fact is that this individual allegedly had to create his own in order to carry out this attack.

And even though this is extremely shocking to Japan -- to those in the region -- South Korea is very similar when it comes to this low level of gun crime. It is shocking that a prime minister -- a former prime minister has been assassinated. It is also extremely shocking that it has been done by a handmade gun because there is a sense of security in countries like this -- in Japan -- that some -- I, myself, after having worked there have walked home at 3:00 in the morning back to the hotel with not a thought --


HANCOCKS: -- that there could be anything dangerous about it. It is an extremely safe country and it is just something that you don't imagine happening. So that is certainly going to be something that many people within Japan will be extremely shocked about.

ROMANS: All right, Paula Hancocks. Thank you so much for your analysis.

We are following this breaking news out of Japan. The former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has died. We learned he was bleeding profusely from a bullet that went deep enough to reach his heart. We're learning new details every moment. CNN's special coverage continues.



ROMANS: All right. We're following breaking news out of Japan. Former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died. We learned he was bleeding profusely from a bullet that went deep enough to reach his heart.

Let's bring in Will Ripley. Just shock around the world. I'm watching these responses come in.

The NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, just moments ago, sending his deep condolences to the family of the assassinated former prime minister. "Deeply saddened by the heinous killing of Shinzo Abe, a defender of democracy."

What more are we learning about what is an assassination in Japan?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big question now Christine is why. I think back to the huge protests that I covered when I was a Tokyo correspondent for four years, all of them with Shinzo Abe as the prime minister.

He was Japan's longest-serving prime minister. And when he was elected at 52 for his first term, he was the youngest as well. He has two former prime ministers in his family. It's definitely a political dynasty.

And he did have very nationalist views that went up against some of the -- you know, some of those in Japan who felt that a pacifist constitution was exactly what Japan needed. Whereas, Abe thought that the Japanese self-defense force should play a more assertive role in the region and around the world when it comes to engaging in military conflicts. That, by the way, was a view supported by Japan's most important ally, the United States.

And so, when Shinzo Abe tried to rewrite Japan's constitution there were hundreds of thousands of people who were protesting outside of the Diet, but these were peaceful protests. These were not -- you know, you don't see violence of this nature in Japan.

He spoke out about controversial issues, including defending Taiwan -- this self-government island that China's communist rulers have never controlled but they still claim more than 70 years now as their own territory and have said they could use force to retake it.

Abe went out, especially after he resigned as prime minister in 2020 -- he went out publicly and said that Japan would defend Taiwan and that the United States should stop strategic ambiguity -- this leaving it an open question of U.S. involvement -- and that the U.S. should say that they would defend Taiwan. And so, he -- you know, he did speak out about that.

He was considered a hardliner on North Korea. When North Korea was launching missiles and they were flying over the northern island of Hokkaido it was Shinzo Abe who said that Japan might need to consider first-strike capability -- the ability to actually fire Japanese missiles at a target before they'd even been hit.

These were remarks that made headlines. They were certainly controversial. But overall, I always perceived him as a very well- respected leader in Japan. There's a reason why he led the party that dominated the longest -- you know, there's a reason why the longest- running prime minister in Japanese history.


I remember interviewing his wife, now his widow, Akie Abe. Oh -- you know, thinking about her and what's she's going through right now. I remember asking her what it's like to be the wife of a -- of a prime minister and she -- and she was commenting as we were chatting off- camera before the interview just that he's always busy. He's always doing something.

And it was true, Christine. He was reelected in 2012 right after the tsunami and the nuclear disaster of 2011, and his slogan was "Japan is back." He always dreamed of this big Japanese comeback -- the return to greatness for Japan.

And that's what the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were supposed to be. That was supposed to be his greatest achievement and turned out to be quite a disappointment in that the Olympics were postponed by a year and held at a much smaller scale. Because he had initially hoped that people would fly in from all over the world and they would see this new and revitalized Japan.

It's a Japan that he was fighting for up until the very end -- even out on the ground giving stump speeches for other candidates. Even though he was no longer the man who is front and center he was still very much involved and very much cared about the future of Japan -- a future that sadly, he's now not going to be alive to see come to fruition, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, out there campaigning. Even though he was retired, still a powerbroker -- or still, as his widow had said to you, still out there working, working, working.

Tell us more about her. She is beloved, right? The public knows her well -- former first lady.

RIPLEY: Yes, she -- I mean, she -- if you can think of -- maybe in terms of popularity or approval ratings, kind of like what we saw with Michelle Obama. I mean, people -- regardless of what they thought of Prime Minister Abe's politics, people loved Akie Abe. And how could not love her? She was elegant. She was always calm and collected under pressure.

There -- you know, if there were any sort of questions about activities aside from being the first lady, her private life was never -- was never really raised into question. People always felt that she was -- she was there. She was serving Japan just like her husband was and she did everything she needed to do in order to -- in order to fulfill that role and to -- and to play her part in helping support this man who was Japan's longest-serving prime minister.

I just -- she struck me as just incredibly elegant, incredibly glamorous, and very, very nice, very polite. Exactly what would be considered the ideal in Japanese society -- or at least the conservative ideal from an era that may have now -- that may be now in the past as they're trying to build this new Japan.

But Akie Abe -- she was -- she was a very impressive person, Christine. And my heart is with her tonight. I can't imagine what she's going through --


RIPLEY: -- now having to -- having to be the widow of one of Japan's greatest politicians.

ROMANS: No question. And world leaders, one after another, have been sending their condolences and their concerns for her and her family here overnight as we've been watching this all develop.

Will Ripley, thank you so much.

OK, more on the breaking news out of Japan. The former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has died. Doctors say it was from excessive bleeding. A gunman shot him with what appears to be a homemade gun and the bullet went deep enough to reach his heart.

An assassination in Japan. CNN's special coverage continues.



ROMANS: All right, returning to our top story for the latest details. The breaking news this morning, former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is dead, the victim of assassination. A gunman shot him Friday morning as he was giving a campaign speech in Nara, Japan.

The moment captured on video.





ROMANS: You could hear the blast -- almost an explosion.

Officials say Abe was wounded in the chest and neck. He was airlifted to a hospital where he died of excessive blood loss during surgery.

At the scene, police arrested a man in his 40s on suspicion of attempted murder. He says -- they say -- police say he did not attempt to run away. He was quickly wrestled to the ground by authorities. He appeared to have used a handmade gun in the attack.

CNN's Blake Essig joins us from Tokyo, along with Selina -- just Blake this morning. Thank you, Blake.

Doctors in the hospital, I know, in Nara, have just held a news conference. What new have we learned from that news conference with doctors?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, devastating news here in Japan. Doctors at Nara Medical University Hospital have confirmed that Japanese prime minister -- former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot twice -- once in the chest and once in the neck.

Doctors treating the former prime minister said that he was bleeding profusely and that the bullet that killed him was deep enough to reach his heart. In fact, doctors said that by the time that he reached the hospital his heart had actually already stopped. Now, doctors say that they faced a difficulty -- a difficult time stopping the bleeding and it was ultimately the reason that -- it was that loss of blood that Abe ended up dying from.

Now, the shooting happened while delivering a speech around 11:30 this morning local time in the western city of Nara.


Several hours after the shooting, current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida did hold a press conference to say that Abe was in critical condition at the time and that doctors were doing everything they could fighting to save his life. Kishida, at the time, visibly emotionable -- excuse me, emotional, calling the shooting an unforgivable act.

Abe's brother also addressed the media. Abe's brother is the current minister of defense Nobuo Kishi, who called the attack an affront to democracy and the suppression of freedom of speech. Now, after the shooting, NHK says that the former prime minister was bleeding from his chest and in a state of cardiac arrest while being transported to the hospital.

Witnesses say that Abe was shot from behind. He didn't collapse. You heard both the shots before we started talking here on that video. He didn't collapse after the first shot but did collapse after the second shot before receiving CPR.

Now, the suspect, a man in his 40s, was arrested on the spot, in possession of what NHK is describing as a handmade gun. When you look at this thing it almost kind of looks like a handmade, homemade sawed- off shotgun. These two pipes almost kind of held together by black tape. But again, the investigation into exactly what that is is still underway.

Abe was there in Japan's western city delivering a stump speech for liberal democratic candidates ahead of the Upper House election set for this Sunday. And while a controversial figure -- here in Japan at times, and around the world -- for policies, Abe is an incredibly important figure and news of this shooting has absolutely shocked a nation.

Christine, just in the hours following the shooting, many have taken to social media to say that they hoped that he would pull through, and some calling today's shooting a barbaric act that shakes the root of democracy, saying whether or not you agree with his political stances, violence to suppress political stances is always unacceptable. And unfortunately, those emotions are only going to deepen with the news that the prime minister, Shinzo Abe -- former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Blake Essig. Thank you so much for that reporting.

For more, let's bring in Ken Rogoff, professor of economics and public policy at Harvard University. And Ken, you've been following this grim news of the assassination of Japan's former prime minister. He led an influential economic policy initiative that became known as Abenomics.

What are your thoughts this morning? And how have -- what are Abenomics and his legacy, I guess?


Well, first up, yes, I'm just in a complete state of shock. I can't imagine having this in Japan. I have lived in Japan. You just can't imagine gun violence like this out of the blue. It's shocking.

So, when Abe took over, Japan had been in this long stagnation. They'd had their financial crisis back in the 1990s and they never really grew their way out of it. And he said I'm going to take over and do really bold things.

So, huge fiscal policy stimulus for longer and more than we did. He appointed the head of a central bank who said I'm really going to get things going using monetary policy more aggressively than ever before. He really set an example that many Western leaders followed.

ROMANS: We know that later today -- there's other news happening in the U.S. This jobs report will be released. We know the Fed in the U.S. is jacking up interest rates to try to fight inflation.

What do you expect for the jobs numbers? It's very strong. We're talking about recession concerns but at the same time, we have a strong labor market.

Paint for me the picture in your view of this moment.

ROGOFF: Well, you're right. It's a complete disconnect. Usually -- what we really care about the most in a recession are the jobs. Of course, output going down is not good -- it's bad. But if you're keeping jobs or having jobs growth then the human toll is much less. And we are very likely to have two quarters of negative growth in a row, which sort of back of the envelope usually means a recession.

But the jobs numbers have been very strong. They're expected to temper. It's very hard to predict.

That's a really good number that's coming out, though. It's often considered the most reliable short-term economic statistic. So, I think if it is solid we're not yet in a recession. But we are growing more slowly and there are concerns we could get there.

ROMANS: Quickly, the Fed -- can the Fed do this? Can it tamp down inflation without tipping us into recession?

ROGOFF: They want to. I think it's almost impossible. They'd have to be very lucky. So they have to decide do they have to have inflation get down quickly or are they going to throw us into a big recession? I think -- they're saying they're going to get inflation. I think they're going to blink.


ROMANS: All right, Ken Rogoff. Thank you -- thank you for coming on today and talking to us both about the economic legacy of the late Shinzo Abe and about what's happening right now in the American economy -- tap dancing for us. Thanks.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "New Day" continues right now with special coverage.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It's Friday, July 8. I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman this morning.

And we're beginning with major breaking news -- the assassination of Japan's longest-serving prime minister and one of its most consequential leaders. Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot during a campaign speech today. The shooting captured on video.


ABE: (Giving a speech).



KEILAR: You can hear there two shots fired.

Abe suffered a bullet wound to the right side of his neck and also to his chest. He was rushed from the scene in an ambulance and then transferred by medical helicopter to a hospital where he underwent emergency treatment, but doctors could not stop the bleeding.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Moments after the shots were fired, you could see Abe's security detail tackling the suspect, a local resident in his 40s. The gun he used appears to have been handmade.