UK stands with Japan after Shinzo Abe dies following shooting – PM

UK stands with Japan after Shinzo Abe dies following shooting – PM

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will be remembered for his “global leadership through unchartered times” following his “incredibly sad” death, Boris Johnson has said.

Mr Abe, 67, was shot from behind during a campaign speech in western Japan on Friday and later died in hospital.

The shooting prompted shock and sadness among British politicians as the news emerged on Friday morning.

Mr Johnson was joined by former prime ministers Theresa May and Tony Blair in paying tribute to Mr Abe.

Mr Johnson tweeted: “Incredibly sad news about Shinzo Abe.

“His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people.

“The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.”

Mrs May, who won the backing of Shinzo Abe for her Brexit deal after talks in the UK in January 2019, tweeted: “Truly heartbreaking to hear of the death of my friend Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan — killed in the most appalling of circumstances while campaigning for his political party.”

Mr Abe visited London in January 2019, holding talks with Mrs May as she sought to get the backing of MPs for her Brexit deal.

At that visit, Mr Abe told the prime minister that avoiding a no-deal Brexit was the “wish of the whole world”, as praised the strong ties between the UK and Japan.

Mr Johnson also met with Mr Abe at the G7 in the summer of 2019 and offered of a warm tribute to his “years of service” when Mr Abe stood down in 2020.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi was also among those who paid tribute to the politician, calling his death “heartbreaking”.

“We enter politics to serve and to try and make the world a better place,” he tweeted.

“Shinzo Abe has lost his life in pursuit of that noble aim. May he rest in eternal peace.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Mr Abe was “struck down while playing his part in the democratic process”.

She said she was “shocked” to learn of his death.

“A tragic loss of a great figure who helped transform Japan and forge even closer bonds with the UK,” she tweeted.

Mr Abe was Japan’s longest-serving leader before stepping down for health reasons in 2020.

Police arrested the suspected gunman at the scene of the attack, which shocked people in a country known as one of the world’s safest.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had earlier called it a “dark day”.

He tweeted: “Our hearts are with the family of Shinzo Abe and the Japanese people.

“A truly dark day.”

Former prime minister David Cameron met Mr Abe many times, and the Japanese leader was among those to warn the UK of the dangers of exiting the EU.

Mr Abe used a meeting in Downing Street with David Cameron just weeks before the 2016 referendum vote to press home the value of EU membership to Japanese investors in the UK.

Mr Cameron called it “devastating and truly shocking news”.

“Shinzo Abe was a good friend personally, a strong partner to the UK, and a thoroughly kind and decent man.

“I enjoyed working with him. My heart goes out to his family and friends, and to the people of Japan at this very sad time.”

Tony Blair, the long-serving Labour Prime Minister, also worked with and met Mr Abe in the final years of time in Downing Street.

On Friday, he called Mr Abe a “leader and statesman of extraordinary quality and character”.

“I knew him and worked with him and always had huge respect for his capability.

“I am shocked and saddened by his senseless murder.

“I send my deepest condolences to his wife Akie, with whom my wife Cherie also worked closely, and to all the people of Japan.”