By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
TOKYO (Worthy News) – U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders have expressed shock and outrage at the fatal shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.
President Biden called Abe, who was Japan’s longest-serving leader before resigning in 2020, a champion of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Biden said Abe cared deeply about the Japanese people and democracy.
Police said a 41-year-old male suspect had been arrested at the scene. His motives were not immediately clear.
“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. This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him,” Biden stressed in a statement.
Biden recalled that Abe was shot while campaigning at a drab traffic island in the western city of Nara for a parliamentary election. “Even at the moment he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy.”
Across the Atlantic in Europe, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he had lost a friend. Liberal Rutte, who is one of the longest-serving European Union leaders, said he was “deeply shocked and saddened by the awful attack on my friend, former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe.”
He added on the social networking site Twitter that “Our thoughts are with him, his loved ones, and the people of #Japan.”
Earlier other European leaders including German chancellor Olaf Scholz and French president Emmanuel Macron also shared their condolences. “We stand closely by Japan’s side in these difficult hours,” Scholz tweeted. “Japan has lost a great prime minister,” Macron said.
European Council President Charles Michel decried the “cowardly” attack on Abe, whom he called “a true friend” and a “fierce defender of multilateral order and democratic values.” The European Union is a major trade and investment partner of Japan.
Earlier a teary-eyed Fumio Kishida, Japan’s current prime minister, condemned the assassination when he appeared before Japanese reporters.
Kishida described Abe as a “personal friend” with whom he spent a lot of time. Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi, a good friend of Abe’s, declares July 9 a national day of mourning in India as a mark of “deep respect” for the late Japanese leader.
Modi recalled how he visited Abe on his most recent trip to Japan, noting that he did not expect that that meeting would be their last.
A spokesperson from the Chinese embassy in Japan expressed shock about Abe’s assassination in a statement and extended condolences to his family.
During his premiership, Abe tried to improve relations between Japan and China, but his comments last year about Taiwan’s independence drew criticism from Beijing.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Abe was one of Australia’s “closest friends on the world stage.” During his first term in 2007, Abe initiated a four-way alliance between Japan, India, the U.S., and Australia that facilitated security and economic cooperation.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Abe’s “global leadership” will be remembered. “The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time,” he said.
The secretary-general of the NATO military alliance Jens Stoltenberg sent his “deepest condolences” to Abe’s family and to Kishida in a tweet.
While Japan is not a NATO member, Abe paved the way for a stronger partnership with the transatlantic alliance, observers noted.
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