LONDON — The assassination of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister, has sparked shocked reactions from world leaders and US politicians who have paid tribute to the ex-head of state.
Abe, who was Japan’s longest-serving leader, was shot from behind on Friday while speaking at a campaign event in the western city of Nara. Abe, 67, suffered a cardiac arrest and was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police said a man was arrested at the scene and believed to have carried out the attack.
Leaders such as President Biden, outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed sadness at Friday’s news.
“I am stunned, outraged and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning,” Biden said in a statement. “It is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew it.”
Biden detailed how the two worked “closely together” when he was vice president.
“He was a champion of the Alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people,” Biden said. “Above all, he cared deeply for the Japanese people and devoted his life to their service. Even when he was attacked, he was engaged in democracy work.
Speaking at a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in Bali, Indonesia, Blinken called the assassination “deeply disturbing” and said he shared his “very sincere condolences” with his counterpart. Japanese.
Former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama also paid tribute to Abe.
“I will always remember the work we did to strengthen our alliance, the moving experience of traveling together to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor, and the grace he and his wife Akie Abe showed us and Michelle. “, Obama said in a statementadding that Abe “was dedicated both to the country he served and to the extraordinary alliance between the United States and Japan.”
Posting on his social network, Truth Social, Trump said the former leader was a “true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America.” He added, “It’s a blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much.”
Johnson, who resigned as British Prime Minister on Thursday, shared his condolences on Twitter. “His world leadership through uncharted times will be remembered by many,” he wrote. “My thoughts are with his family, friends and the people of Japan. The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.
Nadhim Zahawi, who was appointed UK Chancellor of the Exchequer two days ago following mass cabinet resignations, shared his sympathies with Japan, saying Abe ‘lost his life searching’ to make the world a better place. This followed a now-deleted tweet in which he expressed his shock at Abe’s death – before any update was given on the ex-leader’s condition.
“A wonderful person, a great democrat and champion of the multilateral world order has passed away,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, wrote on Twitter.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called assassination “brutal” and a “heinous act of violence”. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had “good memories” of Abe, who “did a lot for good neighborly relations”, state media RT reported. Putin’s Foreign Ministry had earlier called the attack a “terrorist act” and demanded that the shooter be held responsible.
Japan is a country with some of the strictest gun ownership laws in the world. For a country of more than 127 million people, it rarely totals more than 10 gun deaths per year. “Ever since guns entered the country, Japan has always had strict gun laws,” Iain Overton, executive director of Action on Armed Violence, a British advocacy group, told the BBC in 2017. “They’re the first nation to have gun laws around the world, and I think that laid the groundwork saying that guns really don’t play a role in civil society. .”