Israeli Prime Minister Lapid Leads Jewish World’s Tributes to Assassinated Former Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid led a slew of tributes from Israel and the Jewish world to the former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe following his shock assassination on Friday.
“The State of Israel mourns the death of former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe following today’s horrific attack,” Lapid tweeted. “He was a fierce and distinguished leader and a key architect of modern Israel-Japan relations. Sending condolences to his family, loved ones and the Japanese people.”
The 67-year-old Abe was shot in the back as he gave an election speech while on the campaign trail in the city of Nara in western Japan. Doctors were unable to revive the former premier, who was taken to hospital in cardiopulmonary arrest and showing no vital signs. He was declared dead at 5:03 p.m. (0803 GMT), about five and a half hours after being shot. The accused assassin, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, was taken into police custody and has admitted to shooting Abe with a homemade gun.
The longest-serving prime minister in Japan’s history, Abe was widely regarded in Israel and by Jewish leaders internationally as a pioneer of improved relations between Japan and the Jewish people. During his second term in office, from 2012-20, trade between Israel and Japan grew from $20 million to over $6 billion, bolstered by two official visits by Abe to the Jewish state.
Abe was also devoted to commemorating the memory of the Nazi Holocaust, energetically raising awareness of the actions of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, the country’s wartime consul in Lithuania who defied the authorities in Tokyo by issuing transit visas to thousands of Jews who escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing eastwards.
“The courageous and humanitarian action of Mr. Sugihara provides us with guidance as to how to we should survive in this world, where rule-of-law-based international order is being challenged in various forms,” Abe told reporters while on an official visit to Lithuania in 2018. During a visit the following year to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the Holocaust, Abe spoke of his “great solemnity in the face of your forefathers, who overcame profound grief to found the nation of Israel.”
Gilad Cohen, Israel’s Ambassador to Japan, said on Friday that he had been shocked by the news of Abe’s assassination.
“Being one of the most prominent leaders of Japan, Abe san was amongst the architects of modern relations between Israel and Japan, [who] served as a major catalyzer for the flourishing ties we see today,” Cohen tweeted.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog said he had been “horrified” by Abe’s “despicable murder.”
“We met when I chaired Israel’s opposition and I was deeply impressed by his leadership, vision and respect for Israel. Grieving with his family and the whole Japanese people,” Herzog tweeted.
The American Jewish Committee, which presented Abe with its “Light Unto the Nations” Award in 2019, mourned “an unstinting ally to the Jewish people, Israel, and the United States.”
“His remarkable legacy will continue to shine bright. May his memory be a blessing,” the advocacy group declared on Twitter.