- The Washington Times
Friday, July 8, 2022

World leaders reacted with sadness and horror at the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot Friday during a campaign speech in the town of Nara.

President Biden called Mr. Abe a champion for democracy and the U.S.-Japan alliance. He said the former prime minister “cared deeply about the Japanese people.”

“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,” Mr. Biden said in a formal statement. “This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, a frequent golf partner of Mr. Abe, called the tragedy “really bad news for the world.”

He was a unifier like no other, but above all, he was a man who loved and cherished his magnificent country, Japan. Shinzo Abe will be greatly missed. There will never be another like him!” Mr. Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social.

Grief over the shocking attack brought common ground to Russian President Vladimir Putin — who called Mr. Abe an “outstanding statesman” and sent a letter of condolences to his wife and mother — and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who decried the “horrible news.”

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“I am extending my deepest condolences to his family and the people of Japan at this difficult time. This heinous act of violence has no excuse,” Mr. Zelenskyy tweeted.

Mr. Abe, 67, was fatally shot from behind while campaigning ahead of a parliamentary election. He was the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history, serving from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. Notably, he helped forge an Indo-Pacific alliance to deter China.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his death “profoundly disturbing.”

“It’s also such a strong personal loss for so many people. In the United States, Prime Minister Abe was an extraordinary partner. And someone who clearly was a great leader for Japan,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who worked with the U.S., Japan and Australia in the Quad alliance, called Mr. Abe a “towering global statesman, an outstanding leader, and a remarkable administrator.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Mr. Abe was a “giant on the world stage” who had a profound and positive impact on Australia.

Boris Johnson, who one day earlier said he will step aside as U.K. prime minister, said he was “utterly appalled and saddened” to hear about the shooting.

“His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people. The U.K. stands with you at this dark and sad time,” he wrote.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who sat at the same table as Mr. Abe for the Group of Seven nations meetings, called the assassination “incredibly shocking.”

“The world has lost a great man of vision, and Canada has lost a close friend. My thoughts are with his wife, Akie, and the people of Japan as they mourn this loss. You’ll be missed, my friend,” he tweeted.

Others pointed to the unusual nature of the attack in a country where gun violence is rare.

“My condolences to his family and the Japanese people. I know Japan as a peaceful, democratic country. This is also an attack on our fundamental values of free speech and democracy!” tweeted Jeppe Kofod, Denmark’s ministry of foreign affairs.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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