Singapore leaders express condolences at death of Japan ex-PM Abe

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) called former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe a good friend of Singapore. PHOTO: LEE HSIEN LOONG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Singapore leaders have expressed their condolences for the death of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on Friday (July 8), who succumbed to his injuries after he was shot.

A man opened fire at him while he was giving a rally speech in Nara.

Mr Abe had no vital signs when he was taken to the Nara Medical University Hospital, said medical officials at a press conference. Doctors from the hospital said more than 100 units of blood were used in attempting to resuscitate him.

“As Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister, he will be remembered for his dedication to improving the lives of his fellow countrymen and women,” wrote President Halimah Yacob in a Facebook post. 

“He served with distinction and honour.”

Madam Halimah added: “Singapore and Japan share close ties. Our hearts are with our Japanese friends.”

In an update to an earlier Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he received the news of Mr Abe's death with a heavy heart.

He had earlier called the shooting "a senseless act of violence".

PM Lee wrote: "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 also called Mr Abe a good friend of Singapore, recalling how they last met over lunch during a visit to Tokyo in May.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat mirrored PM Lee’s sentiment about Mr Abe, calling him a “long-time friend of Singapore” in a Facebook post. 

“Mr Abe was the longest-serving and one of Japan’s most influential prime ministers, and I remember him as a dedicated and transformative leader,” said Mr Heng, adding that he was shocked and saddened by Mr Abe’s untimely death.

“My deepest condolences to the family of the late Mr Abe and the people of Japan,” he added. 

In a Facebook post, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong recalled how he was the Minister-in-Attendance when Mr Abe visited Singapore in 2013. 

“He had just started on his second term as PM, and I still remember his resolve and strength when he shared his plans to revive the Japanese economy,” he wrote. 

“My deepest condolences to his family, and to the government and people of Japan on this tragic loss.”

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean also expressed his sadness, recalling how he first met Mr Abe when he was the acting secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party.

"Deepest condolences to his family," said Mr Teo on Facebook.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam called the attack a “despicable murder”, noting that reaction the world over has been one of shock. 

He expressed his condolences to Mr Abe’s family and the people of Japan, adding that he last called on the former prime minister in 2014. 

Mr Shanmugam wrote: “Who would have thought something like this could happen in Japan?  And if it can happen in Japan, it can happen anywhere, including Singapore. Unfortunately, such acts will continue.” 

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin also weighed in and wrote: "Sadly, Abe has died from his wounds after being shot during a speech. Condolences to his family and to the Japanese people."

Former top Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said that Mr Abe’s death was “a very dark day for Japan and for the entire region”. 

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Mr Abe was a leader with great vision and passion for transforming Japan in the face of many global challenges. 

“At a personal level, I will remember a leader who made time for younger foreign visitors, generously shared strategic perspectives, and had a ready smile,” he wrote on Facebook.

A man believed to be the assailant has been taken into custody.

Local media have identified him as Nara resident Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, with several outlets describing him as a former member of the country's navy, the Maritime Self-Defence Force.

Political leaders in Japan and around the world have also condemned the attack.

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