Although “there are many details that we do not yet know,” Biden acknowledged, “we know that violent attacks are never acceptable and that gun violence always leaves deep scars in the communities affected. The United States stands with Japan at this moment of mourning. I send my deepest condolences to his family.”
In a statement Friday afternoon, Biden ordered the U.S. flags to be flown at half-mast until sundown on Sunday, “as a mark of respect for the memory” of the former prime minister.
Asked about the impact of the assassination on Japanese security at a news briefing Friday afternoon on the president’s executive actions on abortion, Biden turned to the problems of gun violence in the United States and highlighted the low number of gun-related killings in Japan in the Compared to Japan, thousands of cases in the US this year.
“The fact is, one thing has struck me: that this is the first time a weapon has been used to assassinate someone in Japan [this year]. You have one, one, one,” the President said. “I don’t think it’s likely – but I don’t know yet – to have any profound destabilizing effects on Japanese security or Japanese solidarity.”
In her own statementVice President Kamala Harris said Abe is a “close friend” of the United States, “and on this tragic day we stand with our Japanese friends to honor him and to condemn this horrific act of violence.”
Abe’s two terms as prime minister – from 2006 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2020 – spanned three US presidencies. As leader of the conservative, ruling Liberal Democratic Party, he strove to foster ties with foreign counterparts and expand Japan’s international involvement, while pursuing a fiscal agenda known as “Abenomics” that boosted his country’s economy.
Abe’s death on Friday at the age of 67 came the weekend before elections to the upper house of Japan’s national parliament. He was speaking on behalf of a Liberal Democratic Party candidate when he was shot from behind and collapsed. Abe was then flown to a nearby hospital in Nara. Medical officials said he sustained injuries to the neck and heart and died from loss of blood.
A male suspect was arrested at the scene, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK, and police sources said they found what appeared to be a hand-made weapon. The attack was notable given Japan’s gun control laws, which are among the strictest in the world.
Speech at the meeting of G-20 foreign ministers In Bali, Indonesia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Abe’s killing a “shocking” and “deeply disturbing” event that represented “such a profound personal loss for so many people.”
Blinken, who appeared alongside South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, said he conveyed the United States’ “very deep condolences” on Abe’s death to his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi. He described Abe as “an extraordinary partner” who “has taken the relationship between … the United States and Japan to new heights.”
US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel praised Abe as “a leader ahead of his time.” say in a statement that the United States has “lost a trusted partner and an outspoken advocate for our shared ideals.” He added of Abe, “The clarity of his voice will really be missed.”
Former President Donald Trump also mourned the assassination of Abe, who in November 2016 became the first foreign leader to meet the then President-elect at Trump Tower in New York. Abe’s death is “really BAD NEWS FOR THE WORLD!” Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social.
Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), who served under Trump as US Ambassador to Japan and is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that the world has “tragically lost a leading statesman, tireless advocate of democratic values, and the greatest prime minister in modern Japanese history.”
Obama describes Abe as a “friend and longtime partner.” said in a statement that he “will always remember the work we have done to strengthen our alliance, the moving experience of traveling to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor together, and the grace he and his wife Akie Abe showed me have and [former first lady Michelle Obama].”
Numerous other world leaders have expressed similar sentiments. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg lamented the “heinous murder of… a defender of democracy” and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Abe a “wonderful man, great democrat and champion of the multilateral world order”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Abes “global leadership through uncharted times will be remembered by many.” Chancellor Olaf Scholz meanwhile, his country will “stand close by Japan in these difficult hours.” French President Emmanuel Macron Abe said “has dedicated his life to his country and worked to bring balance to the world.” and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of Abe’s assassination: “This heinous act of violence has no excuse.”
Matt Berg contributed to this report.