World leaders mourn former Japanese prime minister's death

AP , AFP , Ahram Online , Friday 8 Jul 2022

Friday's shocking assassination of Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in one of the world's safest countries stunned leaders and drew condemnation, with Iran calling it an ``act of terrorism`` while Spain slammed the ``cowardly attack. ``

Shinzo Abe   Akie Abe
File Photo: Japan s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie (R) waving as they depart for the US from Tokyo s Haneda airport, on April 17, 2018. AFP


Abe, 67, was shot from behind in Nara in western Japan while giving a campaign speech. He was airlifted to a hospital but was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital. Abe was Japan's longest-serving leader before stepping down in 2020 for health reasons.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who hastily returned to Tokyo from campaign events around the country, called the shooting ``dastardly and barbaric.''

Leaders from Turkey to Singapore condemned the attack, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the shooting ``despicable.''

``His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and the Japanese people. The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time,'' Johnson tweeted.

Iran condemned the shooting as ``an act of terrorism.''

``As a country that has been a victim of terrorism and has lost great leaders to terrorists, we are following the news closely and with concern,'' Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

People in Japan could be seen reading extra editions of the Friday paper with Abe's picture large on the front page or stopping to watch the news on TV.

NHK public broadcaster aired dramatic footage of Abe giving a speech outside of a train station in the western city of Nara. He is standing, dressed in a navy-blue suit, raising his fist when two gunshots are heard. The footage then shows Abe collapsing on the street.

``We are shocked and saddened to hear about the violent attack against former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,'' the White House said in a statement shortly afterwards.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier expressed her shock about the shooting. She said Abe was one of the first leaders she met after taking office and described him as deeply committed to his role, generous and kind.

``I recall him asking after the recent loss of our pet when I met him, a small gesture but one that speaks to the kind of person he is,'' Ardern said. ``Events like this shake us all to the core.''

In the NHK video, security guards are seen leaping on top of a man in a gray shirt who lies face down on the pavement. A double-barreled device that appeared to be a handmade gun is seen on the ground.

Police have arrested a suspected gunman at the scene. Under Japanese law, possession of firearms, as well as certain kinds of knives and other weapons, like bow guns, is illegal without a special license. Importing them is also illegal.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he was ``deeply shocked by the odious attack'' on Abe. He paid tribute to Abe as ``a great prime minister'' and said ``France stands at the side of the Japanese people.''

Many gave their condolences and expressed solidarity with Japan, and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Saturday's one-day national mourning as a mark of his deepest respect for Abe.

``Mr. Abe made an immense contribution to elevating India-Japan relations to the level of a special strategic and global partnership. Today, the whole of India mourns with Japan, and we stand in solidarity with our Japanese brothers and sisters in this difficult moment,'' Modi said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed shock and solidarity with Japan on Friday after the killing of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

"I extend deep sympathy to his family, my colleague Fumio Kishida and our Japanese friends. We stand with Japan in these difficult hours." He tweeted

While former German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said in a separate statement she was "shocked and appalled" by Abe's assassination, calling it a "cowardly and vile attack".

Merkel said she had worked "closely together" with Abe during their years in office, united in the goal of facing up to the "great challenges of our time" in "multilateral partnership".

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sent his best wishes to Abe's family. ``Spain stands together with the people of Japan in these difficult times,'' he tweeted.


Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Abe was one of Australia's closest friends and a ``giant on the world stage, `` adding that ``his legacy was one of global impact, and a profound and positive one for Australia. He will be greatly missed. ``

Italian Premier Mario Draghi offered his profound condolences and said Italy was embracing Abe's family, the government, and the Japanese people.

``Italy is distraught over the terrible attack against Japan and its free, democratic debate. Abe was a great protagonist of Japanese and international political life in recent decades, thanks to his innovative spirit and reformist vision,'' Draghi said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called the death of Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe an "irreplaceable loss."

In a telegram to Abe's family, Putin called Abe an "outstanding statesman" who had done a lot to develop "good neighbourly ties between our countries."

"I wish you and your family strength and courage in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss," Putin said, according to a statement released by the Kremlin.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who is in Bali as president of the Group of 20 nations' foreign ministers meeting in Bali, Indonesia, lamented Abe's ``untimely demise'' and said he ``will always be remembered as a prime example for all.''

In China, however, Abe's shooting triggered unfavourable comments from tens of thousands of nationalist citizens on social media.

Some quipped, ``Hope he's not OK,'' while dozens half-jokingly called the shooter ``a hero'' or ``anti-Japan hero.'' Others said Abe's injuries were a comfort to the souls of people who had died in Japan's invasion of China during World War II.

While not necessarily the view of most Chinese, the posts reflect strong public sentiment, encouraged by government propaganda, against right-wing Japanese politicians who question or deny that the military committed atrocities in China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian declined to comment. He said China expressed sympathies with Abe's family and that the shooting shouldn't be linked with bilateral relations.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi expressed  his condolences to the Japanese people for the loss of ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, describing the former premier as a "great leader" and "a loyal friend to Egypt."

"I received with great sorrow the news of the death of the former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, after a treacherous act of assassination," El-Sisi tweeted

“Shinzo Abe was a loyal friend to Egypt, supporting it in all times and circumstances.  Bilateral relations  during his tenure witnessed unprecedented progress on all levels." he added

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Friday, called the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is an "unacceptable act of crime",

"I extend my consolation and condolences to his family and the Japanese people for having lost their longest-serving prime minister and a respected politician," Yoon said in a statement released by his presidential office.

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