Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shot dead at campaign speech

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• Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died age 67 after being shot during a speech on Friday in Nara, Japan, doctors who were treating him have confirmed.

• Abe died from excessive bleeding and the bullet that killed him was “deep enough to reach his heart,” doctors at Nara Medical University said in a news conference. Two shots can be heard in video footage of the assassination.

• Police have arrested a man in his 40s in connection with the shooting and retrieved what appeared to be a homemade gun, public broadcaster NHK reported.

• Abe was the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister in history. He stepped down as leader in 2020, citing health reasons.

Leader’s recall “a kind and decent man” who worked to “bring balance” to the world

Tributes to Shinzo Abe have continued to pour in from politicians around the world, many of whom recalled their visits with the former leader and expressed their shock at his killing.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “Japan has lost a great prime minister.”

“On behalf of the French people, I send my condolences to the Japanese authorities and people after the assassination of Shinzo Abe. Japan has lost a great Prime Minister, who dedicated his life to his country and worked to bring balance to the world,” Macron tweeted.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Abe’s assassination “shocking,” and praised Abe as “a leader with great vision” and an “extraordinary partner,” who took US-Japanese relations “to new heights.”

“It’s profoundly disturbing in and of itself, it’s also such a strong personal loss for so many people,” Blinken said Friday.

A number of former leaders who worked with Abe during his time as Japanese prime minister also offered their condolences.
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron said Abe was “a good friend personally, a strong partner to the UK, and a thoroughly kind and decent man.” He called his death “devastating and truly shocking.”

Israel’s ex-leader Benjamin Netanyahu said he “will always remember Shinzo Abe and cherish our deep friendship,” while Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French prime minister, called him “a great leader who left his mark on Japan.”

Abe left “a lot of legacies,” both nationally and globally

Kazuto Suzuki, professor of public policy at Hokkaido University, told CNN’s Max Foster that Shinzo Abe “left a lot of legacies in Japan and the world.”

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He “very successfully transformed Japan into a modern state fitting into this globalizing world … after the subprime crisis,” Suzuki said, adding that the former prime minister helped to recover the country from deflation through “Abenomics.”

“He also tried to change the constitution — although he was not successful — but he introduced the legislation on peace and security, which allows the partial implementation of the collective self-defense, which were for the last 70 years was was not allowed to have under the interpretation of our constitution,” he added.
One of Abe’s biggest legacies, Suzuki said, “is the concept of Indo-Pacific.”

He was “trying to bring the United States, Australia and India [into] the effort of counterbalancing [and] counter-measuring with [the] emergence of China in East Asia,” Suzuki said.

Michelle Lee, The Washington Post’s Tokyo bureau chief, told CNN that the best way to describe Abe is as “a towering political figure both at home and abroad.”

He is “probably the most recognizable Japanese politician outside of Japan. And even within Japan, even though he resigned in 2020 as prime minister,” she added.

“He was the youngest prime minister to be elected. He was the longest serving prime minister. He said so many things and created some controversies and scandals, but he was incredibly influential,” Lee said.

Vladimir Putin and other world leaders pay homage to Abe, calling assassination “despicable”
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a personal letter of condolences to the family of assassinated former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe on Friday, calling him “an outstanding statesman.”

“Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of your son and husband, Shinzo Abe,” Putin wrote in the letter, addressed to Abe’s mother and wife.
Colombian President Ivan Duque also expressed deep regret on behalf of Colombians, writing in a tweet: “We will always remember him as a leader very close to Colombia. Solidarity with his family and the Japanese people.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a tweet he was “stunned and deeply saddened” by Abe’s death, saying the country will “stand close to Japan.”

Israel’s leaders also spoke out, with Prime Minister Yair Lapid praising Abe as “one of the most important leaders of modern Japan, and a true friend of Israel.” Israel’s President Isaac Herzog also released a statement, saying he was “horrified by the despicable murder of Shinzo Abe, one of Japan’s most preeminent leaders in modern times.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: Abe was “a personal friend with whom I spent a lot of time”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida paid his “deepest condolences” to former leader Shinzo Abe on Friday, saying he “was a personal friend, with whom I spent a lot of time.”
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Kishida said he had “great respect for the legacy (Abe) left behind,” adding he had received a lot of advice from his predecessor and was grateful for his warm support.

Kishida said he will continue campaigning tomorrow, ahead of Upper House elections scheduled for Sunday, adding that a free and fair vote must be defended at all costs.

Abe had been delivering a campaign speech, supporting candidates from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, when he was shot in Nara on Friday.

 

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