‘Received with a heavy heart’ on news of Shinzo Abe’s death: PM Lee

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Shinzo Abe during his last visit to Japan in May 2022. (PHOTO: Ng Siew Chwee/MCI)
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Shinzo Abe during his last visit to Japan in May 2022. (PHOTO: Ng Siew Chwee/MCI)

SINGAPORE — Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he "received with a heavy heart" news of the death of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe after he was shot in Nara prefecture on Friday (8 July).

Calling it a "deeply shocking and distressing incident" in a tweet, Lee said, "I offer my sincere condolences to Mrs Abe Akie, Mr Abe’s loved ones, and the people of Japan."

Hours earlier, Lee had posted about the incident on Facebook, and called it a "senseless act of violence". Calling Abe a "good friend of Singapore", Lee said, "I had just hosted him to lunch in May, on my visit to Tokyo."

Abe was shot while delivering a campaign speech in Nara. He was airlifted to a hospital with officials saying he was not breathing and his heart had stopped.

Current Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the attack “dastardly and barbaric” and added that the crime occurring during the election campaign, which is the foundation of democracy, was absolutely unforgivable.

Nara prefectural police confirmed the arrest of Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, on suspicion of attempted murder. NHK reported that the suspect served in the Maritime Self-Defence Force for three years in the 2000s.

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving leader before stepping down in 2020 due to a chronic stomach condition.

World leaders react to shooting

World leaders had earlier reacted to the shocking incident. Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State for the United States, said before his meeting with Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, "I do have to say before we meet how deeply saddened and deeply concerned we are by the news coming from Japan about the attempt on the life of Prime Minister Abe."

Meanwhile, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Twitter, "I am saddened and shocked by the tragic shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe."

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