Updated: Jul 12
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Island leaders joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated while campaigning in western Japan Friday. He was 67.
“We are shocked and saddened upon learning about the passing of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. Leaders around the world knew him as a man deeply devoted to his country," Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio said in a statement.
"He was equally dedicated to strengthening the extraordinary alliance between the United States and Japan, and our island of Guam as a result. As we prepare to commemorate Liberation Day, this news reminds us that our people have come a long way to realize lasting peace and friendship with the people of Japan."
The governor said Guam's tourism and travel history, which recorded many milestones under Abe’s tenure, "symbolizes the better legacy" that was built together by Guam and Japan.
"We stand committed to honoring his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and we stand with the world in condemning this horrific act of violence. Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to his family and our Japanese friends in this moment of grief," Leon Guerrero and Tenorio said.
CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres said Abe left a legacy as an outstanding public servant for many years, and was a great partner to the United States and the CNMI.
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was a great leader of Japan and the longest-reigning Prime Minister in Japan’s history," Torres said.
He noted the historical, familial and economic ties between the CNMI and Japan.
"We join our Japanese brothers and sisters in mourning. We are with you during this time of pain and hardship," Torres said. “On behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, we express our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, loved ones, and the people of Japan. He will truly be missed.”
Abe was Japan's longest-serving prime minister.
In the Federated States of Micronesia, President David Panuelo expressed his "sadness and shock" at the death of Abe, whom he described as "a sincere friend to many in the FSM government."
Panuelo said the FSM has a "kizuna" (special bond) with Japan. Their diplomatic relations were established on Aug. 5, 1988.
"A significant minority of Micronesians have blood and romantic ties to Japan and its people," Panuelo said. "The government of Japan has a rich and profound history of providing genuinely meaningful and deeply appreciated development assistance to the FSM, ranging in scope from Japanese International Cooperation Agency volunteers and the development of mathematics curricula and tools to the construction of necessary infrastructure and the donation of passenger-cargo ships."
"The people and government of the FSM extend their most profound condolences and sympathies to the people and government of Japan, to Mrs. Abe and her family, during this time of bereavement, and will recall the memory of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by committing to strengthening the FSM-Japan kizuna," Panuelo said.
Former Palau President Tommy Remengesau described Abe as an "extraordinary eminent statesman" and "had a great foresight."
"During his tenure as prime minister, he brought fruitful economic and environmental developments between, Palau and Japan over the years," Remengesau stated in a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The former president recalled that during his first meeting with Abe in 2007, he "felt the enormity of his strength, kindness, dedication and commitment to the peaceful bonds and relations between our countries and the Pacific region."
Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata of American Samoa said Abe was an influential leader, serving at the same time as both Republican and Democratic leaders of the United States.
"He was Prime Minister during parts of the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. As he takes his place in history, our condolences to the people of Japan. We appreciate his strong legacy of friendship to the U.S., and his commitment to a free, secure Pacific region," Amata said.
“Under his leadership, Japan remained a dependable friend, ally and trade partner to the United States. Japan is an important economic power in the world, and has a key role in the stability of the Pacific region," she added.
Amata said Abe made extensive international efforts to have good relations with all Pacific nations, large and small, while enhancing and clarifying Japan’s defensive posture to further strengthen and support alliances, and fulfill Japan’s necessary place in the security of the Pacific.
“It was an honor to meet prime minister Shinzo Abe when he spoke to the U.S. Congress. He was the longest Prime Minister of Japan in history, attaining the office as leader of his political party in four elected terms from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020," Amata said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued the following statement:
"Together with the people of the United States, I offer my sincerest condolences on the tragic passing of former Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo. Prime Minister Abe was a global leader and unwavering ally and friend of the United States, whose vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific lifted our alliance cooperation to new heights. We offer our thoughts to Prime Minister Abe’s family and the people of Japan. Together with them and the world, we mourn his passing."
Abe died after being shot on the street in Nara City — a shocking act of violence in a country with one of the world's lowest rates of gun crime.
The suspect, who was arrested by police, admitted to shooting Abe with a handmade firearm made out of metal and wood.
The Japanese media reported Abe died at Nara Medical University from excessive bleeding and the bullet that killed him had penetrated deep enough to reach his heart.