Stunned world leaders paid tribute to Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after he was fatally shot while delivering a campaign speech on Friday.
The sudden attack was branded as an “act of terrorism” by world leaders, who spoke out in solidarity with the people of Japan following the horrific shooting.
Japan’s longest-serving leader collapsed and was bleeding from the neck after he was attacked from behind during a stump speech at about 11:30 a.m. ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections, local outlets reported.
The former prime minister, 67, appeared to be in cardiac arrest and was later pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. local time at the hospital.
Among the dozens of politicians leading tributes was former US President Donald Trump, who described Abe as a “truly great man and leader,” adding that he “was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America.”
“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,” Trump said on his social media platform, Truth.
Abe, who held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020, was forced to step down due to the debilitating bowel condition ulcerative colitis.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who hastily returned to Tokyo from campaign events around the country, called the attack “dastardly and barbaric.”
“I’m praying for former Prime Minister Abe’s survival from the bottom of my heart,” Kishida told reporters.
Scandal-scarred British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter to pay his respects just 24 hours after resigning as UK leader on Thursday.
“Incredibly sad news about Shinzo Abe,” Johnson tweeted. “His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people. The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.
Britain’s new finance minister Nadhim Zahawi sent his condolences to Japan on Friday, saying he had lost his life in pursuit of a noble aim to make the world a better place.
“Today’s news from Japan is heartbreaking,” Zahawi tweeted. “We enter politics to serve and to try and make the world a better place. Shinzo Abe has lost his life in pursuit of that noble aim. May he rest in eternal peace.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also paid tribute on Twitter, writing, “Deeply shocked by the heinous attack that Shinzo Abe suffered. Thoughts to the family and loved ones of a great Prime Minister. France stands alongside the Japanese people.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also voiced concern over the attempted slaying of Abe, saying, “We don’t know his condition. We do know that apparently he’s been shot. Our thoughts, our prayers are with him, with his family, with the people of Japan. This is a very, very sad moment.”
Also among those who paid tribute was former US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien paid tribute to Abe as a “towering figure in Japan and the entire Indo-Pacific.”
“May God bless him with a full recovery,” he added.
Iran condemned the shooting as “an act of terrorism.” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson tweeted, “As a country that has been a victim of terrorism and has lost great leaders to terrorists, we are following the news closely and with concern.”
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Japan said Abe “made contributions towards improving China-Japan relations during his term. We express our condolences on his death and send our sympathies to his family.”
While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was “stunned and deeply saddened” by the news.
“We stand closely by Japan’s side even in these difficult hours,” Scholz tweeted, expressing his deepest sympathy to Abe’s family.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki took to Twitter to pay his respects, writing, “I am deeply shocked by the news of the assassination of @AbeShinzo. My thoughts are with the family of our Japanese friend who was always very kind to Poland. May he Rest In Peace.”
Germany’s leaders also spoke out following the attack, saying the nation stands by Japan’s side as it mourns the tragic loss. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote she was “shocked by the news that Shinzo Abe was shot. My thoughts are with him and his family.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez sent his best wishes to Abe’s family and “our forthright condemnation of this cowardly attack, writing, “Spain stands together with the people of Japan in these difficult times.”
Italian lawmakers across the political spectrum condemned the shooting, as Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s right-wing League Party, expressed “dismay” in a tweet, calling Abe a “valiant Japanese statesman.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was “deeply shocked” by the news, revealing Abe was one of the first leaders she formally met as prime minister.
“He was deeply committed to his role, and also generous and kind. I recall him asking after the recent loss of our pet when I met him, a small gesture but one that speaks to the kind of person he is,” Ardern tweeted, adding, “My thoughts are with his wife and the people of Japan. Events like this shake us all to the core.”
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese echoed the sentiments in a tweet, writing “Shocking news from Japan that former PM Shinzo Abe has been shot. Our thoughts are with his family and the people of Japan at this time.”
Leaders across Asia were stunned to learn the news, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rushed to Twitter to pay his respects.
“Deeply distressed by the attack on my dear friend Abe Shinzo. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and the people of Japan,” he tweeted.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong slammed it as a “senseless act of violence.”
“Received with a heavy heart the news that Mr Abe has succumbed to his injuries and passed on. This is a deeply shocking and distressing incident. I offer my sincere condolences to Mrs Abe Akie, Mr Abe’s loved ones, and the people of Japan,” he tweeted.
Foreign Secretary of the Philippines, Enrique Manalo, said he learned the news with great shock and dismay, tweeting, “We send our most heartfelt sympathy to Mme Akie Abe and their family.”
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said he was saddened and shocked, writing, “The government and people of Malaysia are praying for his speedy recovery and for his family to be given strength to endure this tragedy.”
With Post wires
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