News of the assassination of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister, was met with an outpouring of shock and sympathy from world leaders and politicians, a sign of the enduring global ties he had sought. to maintain during his eight years at the helm of the country. chief.
Throughout his tenure, Mr. Abe had engaged in proactive diplomacy with close allies, as well as countries with which Japan had fraught relations. He sought to make his country a defender of the liberal world order and a counterbalance to China’s rise in the region.
In his jet-set diplomacy — he visited about 80 countries during his tenure – Mr. Abe became friends with President Donald J. Trump, met Russian President Vladimir V. Putin dozens of times and, in 2018, became the first Japanese leader to visit Beijing in seven years when he met the leader of China. leader, Xi Jinping.
Mr Abe also hosted President Barack Obama during his poignant and historic 2016 visit to Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Mr. Obama was the first American president to do so.
After the announcement of his death, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said on Twitter that the assassination was a “brutal and cowardly murder”. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Twitter that he was “shocked and saddened beyond words” by Mr Abe’s fatal shooting. “He was an imposing world statesman, an outstanding leader and an outstanding administrator,” Mr Modi wrote. “He dedicated his life to making Japan and the world a better place.”
Before Abe’s death was confirmed on Friday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken Jr., who was in Bali, Indonesia, for a Group of 20 meeting, said he was “deeply saddened and deeply concerned” about the shooting, adding that it was a “very, very sad moment”. US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel also called Mr Abe “Japan’s outstanding leader and staunch US ally”.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, told a regular press briefing on Friday that Beijing was “shocked” by the shooting.
Among other world figures, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed his condolences at the G20 meeting, according to Reuters. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter that he was “utterly appalled and saddened to learn of the despicable attack”. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called Mr Abe “a good friend from Singapore”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India tweeted that he was “deeply grieved”, saying Mr Abe was a “dear friend”. And President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, in a Facebook post, called Mr. Abe “our good friend” and a staunch ally.
In 2018, at a time perhaps emblematic of Mr Abe’s assertive diplomacy, he stepped into a prominent role after the Trump administration withdrew from what was called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal multilateral initiative initiated by the United States. In the absence of the United States, Japan rallied the remaining nations to sign the far-reaching trade deal.
But Mr Abe’s longstanding aspirations to strengthen Japan’s military and curb the pacifism that had dominated the country’s post-war policies – as well as his reluctance to demand an apology for his country’s wartime atrocities – focused on relations with Asian neighbors who had suffered from Japan’s war. imperial ambitions.
With its denial that the Japanese military forced women into sex slavery during the war and the push for Japanese schoolbooks to contain nationalist versions of history, relations between Japan and South Korea under M Abe have deteriorated to one of the lowest points in recent years.