World leaders in shock over Shinzo Abe's assassination

Friday July 08 2022
shinzo (1)

Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. PHOTO | FILE


Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe died in hospital on Friday hours after being shot at a political campaign event in an attack condemned as "absolutely unforgivable"

The attack prompted international shock. World leaders, past and present, expressed their shock and sadness following Abe's death.

"This is a very, very sad moment," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at a G20 meeting in Bali, saying the United States was "deeply saddened and deeply concerned".

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha was "very shocked" at Abe's shooting, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "deeply distressed" by the news.

Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for one year and again from 2012 to 2020, when he was forced to step down due to the debilitating bowel condition ulcerative colitis.

He is a hawkish conservative who pushed for the revision of Japan's pacifist constitution to recognise the country's military and has stayed a prominent political figure even after his resignation.


Japan has some of the world's toughest gun-control laws, and annual deaths from firearms in the country of 125 million people are regularly in single figures.

Getting a gun licence is a long and complicated process for Japanese citizens, who must first get a recommendation from a shooting association and then undergo strict police checks.

Japan has seen "nothing like this for well over 50 to 60 years", Corey Wallace, an assistant professor at Kanagawa University who focuses on Japanese politics, told AFP.

He said the last similar incident was likely the 1960 assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, the leader of the Japan Socialist Party, who was stabbed by a right-wing youth.

"But two days before an election, of a (man) who is so prominent... it's really profoundly sad and shocking."

He noted, too, that Japanese politicians and voters are used to a personal and close-up style of campaigning.

"This could really change."

More reactions


German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Friday she was horrified by the attack. "I'm shocked by the news that Shinzo Abe was shot," she tweeted from a G20 meeting in Bali. "My thoughts are with him and his family."

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel, who had frequent contact with Abe for several years while both were still in office, said she was "dismayed" at the news of the "terrible attack on my long-time colleague".

"Our cooperation was close and based on trust, I always enjoyed working with him," she said in a statement released before Japanese media reported Abe's death from his wounds. 

"My thoughts in these hours are with him, his wife and his whole family," Merkel said.


The Kremlin said it was saddened by the death of Japan's former PM Shinzo Abe and hailed him as a "patriot."

"We are deeply saddened by the news from Japan," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said shortly after a Japanese hospital confirmed Abe was pronounced dead after being shot at a campaign event. "Abe was truly a patriot of Japan."

European Union

"The brutal and cowardly murder" of Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe "shocks the world," European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Friday.

"I will never understand the brutal killing of this great man," said European Council President Charles Michel in a separate tweet.

"Japan, Europeans mourn with you," he said.

United Kingdom

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Friday hailed the leadership role taken by the assassinated Japanese leader and said the UK stands with Japan "at this dark and sad time".

"Incredibly sad news about Shinzo Abe. His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many," Johnson tweeted.


NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he was "deeply saddened by the heinous killing".

Stoltenberg tweeted that Abe was "a defender of democracy and my friend and colleague over many years".  He expressed his "deepest condolences" to Abe's family, current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and to "the people of NATO’s partner Japan at this difficult time".

- Complied by Hellen Githaiga, The EastAfrican