World leaders paid tribute to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after the political titan widely credited with reviving the nation’s economy and seen as a close friend by other major democracies, was shot to death.
Japan’s longest-serving premier was shot from about 3 meters (10 feet) behind during a campaign event in the city of Nara on Friday, ahead of a parliamentary election this weekend. The attack stunned a nation where political violence and guns are extremely rare.
Abe, 67, came from a conservative political dynasty and had a reputation as a deft political operator who maintained enduring influence after leaving office.
The UAE has expressed its condolences to the people and government of Japan on the death of Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan expressed his sorrow over the death of Shinzo Abe.
On his Twitter page, Sheikh Mohamed said: “We are deeply saddened to learn about the death of our dear friend Abe Shinzo who served his nation with honour and contributed to strengthening the fruitful relations between the UAE and Japan,”.
“We extend our sincere condolences to his family and the people of Japan,” Sheikh Mohamed tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “shocked and saddened beyond words” at the tragic news about one of his “dearest friends.” “He was a towering global statesman, an outstanding leader and a remarkable administrator,” Modi wrote on Twitter. “He dedicated his life to make Japan and the world a better place.”
India would mark a day of national mourning on Saturday “as a mark of our deepest respect,” the Modi said in a Twitter post.
Japan and India are part of the so-called Quad grouping that also includes the US and Australia. Abe visited India several times as Japan’s premier, and the two leaders launched a “special strategic and global partnership” collaborating on areas including civilian nuclear energy and maritime security.
Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Abe’s passing “incredibly sad.” “His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people,” he wrote on Twitter. “The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.”
Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meetings in Bali that he was “deeply saddened” by the shooting.
Former US president Donald Trump, who once called Abe Japan’s greatest prime minister, called the news “devastating,” according to a statement shared on Twitter by Dan Scavino, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.
“He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America,” Trump wrote, after the news of Abe’s shooting, according to the post. “This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was shocked by the attack at a regular press briefing earlier in the day, noting the shooting shouldn’t be linked with China-Japan ties.
Abe stabilized Tokyo’s relationship with Beijing while in office, restoring official visits and opening the nation’s doors to Chinese tourists. But mistrust simmered, and Abe’s visit to a controversial shrine honouring Japan’s war dead - including convicted criminals - days after leaving office infuriated Beijing.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “saddened” by Abe’s death, calling the Japanese statesman “one of Australia’s closest friends on the world stage.”
“Abe was a leader in the Indo-Pacific, championing a vision of a free and open region,” he added, in a statement. “Mr Abe was also a giant on the world stage - a leader in the G7, the G20 and the United Nations. He legacy was one of global impact.”
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Abe’s shooting, saying in a statement: “We are aware of the related media reports.” Separately, Foreign Minister Park Jin in Bali called the incident “extremely shocking.”
Abe had built support at home by taking a tough line on Japan’s neighbour, and former South Korean President Moon Jae-in built support by responding. Relations between the two traditional foes worsened on issues such as wartime “comfort women” and trade.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose country has battled gun crime during her tenure, wrote on Twitter that she was “deeply shocked” by the shooting, before the news of Abe’s death.
“He was one of the first leaders I met when I became PM. He was deeply committed to his role but also generous & kind,” she said. “My thoughts are with his wife and the people of Japan. Events like this shake us all to the core.”
President Emmanuel Macron wrote in French on Twitter: “Profoundly shocked by the heinous attack of which Shinzo Abe was the victim. My thoughts are with the family and those close to a great prime minister. France is with the Japanese people.”
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said: “The Italian government condemns the attack against Shinzo Abe. Italy supports him and the Japanese population in this dramatic moment.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog posted on Twitter to say he was “horrified by the despicable murder” of “one of Japan’s most preeminent leaders in modern times.”
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, host of the G-20 meeting in Bali, condoled the killing. “I wish to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences from the people and govt of Indonesia to the people and govt of Japan in this time of sorrow.”