President Biden said Friday he was “stunned” and “outraged” by the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling his death “a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.”
In a statement issued hours after Abe was pronounced dead at a hospital in the city of Nara, the president called the conservative leader “a champion of the Alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people.
“The longest serving Japanese Prime Minister, his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific will endure,” Biden went on. “Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service. Even at the moment he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy.”
The president’s statement also included a glancing reference to recent mass shootings in America, saying: “While there are many details that we do not yet know, we know that violent attacks are never acceptable and that gun violence always leaves a deep scar on the communities that are affected by it.
“The United States stands with Japan in this moment of grief. I send my deepest condolences to his family,” Biden concluded.
Abe, 67, was shot twice in the neck while delivering a campaign speech in Nara, about 20 miles east of Osaka, ahead of Sunday’s elections to the upper house of Japan’s parliament. Doctors later revealed that he had died from massive blood loss and that one of the bullets penetrated far enough to reach his heart.
The suspected shooter, 41-year-old Testuya Yamagami, has been taken into custody.
Former President Donald Trump, who enjoyed a close relationship with Abe during their time in office, initially called the attack on Abe “[a]bsolutely devastating news” in a post on his site Truth Social.
“He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America,” Trump said. “This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much. We are all praying for Shinzo and his beautiful family!”
After Abe’s death was announced, Trump posted a second time, calling the assassination: “Really BAD NEWS FOR THE WORLD!”
“His killer was captured and will hopefully be dealt with swiftly and harshly. Few people know what a great man and leader Shinzo Abe was, but history will teach them and be kind,” Trump added. “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!”
Former President Barack Obama said he was “shocked and saddened” by Abe’s death, and said he was “devoted to both the country he served and the extraordinary alliance between the United States and Japan.”
“I will always remember the work we did to strengthen our alliance, the moving experience of traveling to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor together, the grace he and his wife Akie Abe showed to me and Michelle,” the 44th president went on. “Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan who are very much in our thoughts at this painful moment.”
Vice President Kamala Harris also expressed her condolences on Twitter Friday morning writing, “Doug and I send our deepest condolences to the family of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and the Japanese people. He was a close friend of the United States and on this tragic day, we stand with our Japanese friends in honoring him and condemning this horrific act of violence.”
Abe was Japan’s prime minister for almost nine full years, serving between September 2006 and 2007, and again from December 2012 to September 2020 before stepping down due to a recurrence of ulcerative colitis.
In all, Abe won six national elections and built a rock-solid grip on power, bolstering Japan’s defense role and capability and its security alliance with the US He also stepped up patriotic education at schools and raised Japan’s international profile.
With Post wires