Japan on Friday lost a top political campaigner after the assassination of Shinzo Abe, an influential politician and former prime minister.

The political maverick was involved deeply in public engagements until the end of his life as elections of the upper house – House of Councilors – are set for Sunday.

Abe, 67, was addressing a corner campaign meeting in the western city of Nara to seek support for a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate when he was shot dead.

Scion of a political family, Abe served Japan as chief executive for a record time in the post-war period, bringing political stabilization to the world’s third-largest economy.

Known for his sway across the Japanese political spectrum, Abe commanded influence over a vast bloc in the LDP, which he led in 2006 and then from 2012 until 2020 when he stepped down due to health reasons.

His support inside the LDP proved critical to the election of Fumio Kishida as the prime minister late last year.

The election for 125 seats of the Senate is set for Sunday as the ruling coalition battles to maintain its majority in the 248-member upper house.

Rising inflation, a fall in the value of the country's currency and Russia’s war on Ukraine became hot issues as candidates started campaigning last month.

In a coalition with the Komeito party, the ruling LDP needs only 56 seats to maintain its majority.

Around 530 people are expected to vie for the seats to serve a six-year term. Every three years, half of the Senate seats are contested.

Japan's annual inflation rate was 2.5% in April, while the Japanese yen lost nearly 20% against the US dollar since March, slumping to a parity of 136 – the lowest since August 1998.

Despite the tragedy, Prime Minister Kishida has said that elections will be held as scheduled. "Election campaigning will be held as scheduled Saturday to show that (we) will not succumb to violence,” he told reporters in Tokyo.