PM Lee among S'poreans, Japanese residents to pay their last respects to late Shinzo Abe

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, accompanied by Mrs Lee, paid his respects and signed the condolence book for former Japan PM Shinzo Abe at the residence of Ambassador Jun Yamazaki on July 12, 2022. PHOTO: MCI
A photo of Japan’s former PM Shinzo Abe at the Japan Creative Centre on July 12, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A message left by a well-wisher on the condolence book for Mr Abe at the Japan Creative Centre on July 12, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
People arriving at the Japan Creative Centre to sign the condolence book on July 12, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as well as scores of Singaporeans and Japanese nationals, paid their respects to the late Mr Shinzo Abe on Tuesday (July 12), following the assassination of the former Japanese prime minister last Friday.

Mr Abe, 67, was killed by a lone gunman in the Nara prefecture while he was delivering a campaign speech for Japan's parliamentary elections.

Mr Lee visited the residence of Ambassador Jun Yamazaki on Tuesday morning, where he paid his respects and signed the condolence book. He was accompanied by Mrs Lee.

Mr Lee said in a Facebook post last week that Mr Abe was "a good friend of Singapore", that the shooting was "a deeply shocking and distressing incident" and offered his condolences to Mrs Abe, his loved ones and the Japanese people.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Embassy of Japan in Singapore thanked Mr and Mrs Lee for their visit. 

“We sincerely appreciate the genuine friendship that exists between Japan and Singapore. We hope to further deepen our bilateral ties by drawing on Prime Minister Abe’s legacy,” the post read.

Separately, a steady stream of people shuffled into the Japan Creative Centre (JCC), where the Embassy of Japan in Singapore had opened a condolence book for the general public, from 10am to 5pm on Tuesday. Around 400 people visited to sign and write messages in the book, according to the staff and ushers at the JCC.

At the centre, the mood was sombre, as Japanese nationals and Singaporeans paid their respects to Mr Abe, some bringing flowers and with teary eyes.

Mr Toshinari Miyamoto, who manages a manufacturing company, came alone to express his condolences. The 59-year-old had attended the same university as Mr Abe, Seikei University, and was several years his junior.

He personally met Mr Abe in 2007, during an alumni gathering.

"He was an energetic and good man, our longest serving leader. He did many good things for our economy, including the 'three arrows of Abenomics', and is remarkable," said Mr Miyamoto, referring to the late leader's economic policy, which focused on flexible fiscal policy, monetary expansion, and structural reform.

Mr Toshinari Miyamoto leaving the Japan Creative Centre after signing the condolence book for Japan’s former PM Shinzo Abe on July 12, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Mr Kyosuke Kuroda, 44, arrived at the JCC with his wife and child.

The financial manager said: "I was from Fukushima, and back then, with the nuclear disaster, the economy was bad, but I managed to make it here. Mr Abe helped a lot of Japanese people like me to succeed. My family back home are also grateful for his contribution. We're here to say thank you and pay our respects."

Among the Singaporeans who paid respects to Mr Abe was Ms Connie Low, a 50-year-old florist who travels to Japan often. Prior to the pandemic, she had travelled there four times for leisure.

"I really love going to Japan, and he helped to keep it such a beautiful, safe place to visit," she said.

Venerable Shi Fa Rong, a Buddhist monk, also came to pay his respects.

Venerable Shi Fa Rong arriving at the Japan Creative Centre on July 12, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The 65-year-old said: "I want to say my final goodbyes. Yesterday, I also went to the Japanese embassy with flowers and talked to the Japanese people there. They're all very sad, and I just want to pray that he rests in peace."

The Japan Creative Centre will also be open on Wednesday (July 13) from 10am to 5pm for members of the public to sign the condolence book. 

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.