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Obituary

Photos: In Memory Of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Longest-Serving Elected Leader

The former prime minister and senior statesman who brought stability to the nation and built relationships with countries worldwide was shot dead on July 8.

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Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was gunned down by suspect Tetsuya Yamagami on the morning of July 8 while giving a speech in the city of Nara in western Japan, where he was campaigning for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s local candidate in the July 10 national Upper House election. Efforts to save his life were in vain and he was declared dead at 5:03 PM on July 8 by doctors treating him in the Nara Medical University Hospital. 

Abe was born on September 21, 1954, in Tokyo, into a prominent political family. His grandfather Nobusuke Kishi and great uncle Eisaku Sato both served as prime ministers, and his father, Shintaro Abe was a former secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.

He was first elected to Japan’s National Diet in 1993. Rising quickly through the ranks, he became prime minister for the first time in 2006, at the age of 52, making him the youngest person to have held the post in the post-war era.

From 2006 to 2007, Abe led the Liberal Democratic Party as prime minister, but his tenure was cut short by his health. 

After being elected party leader again in 2012, he was re-elected for a second term as prime minister in December of the same year.

In November 2019, Shinzo Abe became Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, racking up more than 2,800 consecutive days in office, and a record 3,188 days in total. 

However, due to the condition of ulcerative colitis, a debilitating bowel disorder, he was forced to step down as prime minister in 2020.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is transported to the Nara Medical University in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, at 12:21 PM, July 8, 2022.
Abe about to give a stump speech in Nara City on July 8, 2022. His assassin, Tetsuya Yamagami, can be seen in the background. (Second from right.)
Mrs Akie Abe (left) arrives at the Kashihara Prefectural Medical University Hospital where her husband was admitted, in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, at 4:56 PM on July 8.
Abe attending his first press conference as prime minister on September 26, 2006, | (Photo: Shiro Onishi)
Abe announcing the new era of Reiwa on April 1, 2019. (Photo: Prime Minister’s Office)

Abe responds to reporters on achieving the longest consecutive days in office in the history of Japan’s constitutional government, at the Prime Minister’s Office, August 24, 2020. | (Photo: Ataru Haruna)
Abe and his wife Akie arriving at Haneda Airport after returning from a foreign trip, on June 9, 2015. (Photo: Ikue Mio)
Shinzo Abe, fifth left, and ASEAN leaders pose for a group photo during the 21st ASEAN-Japan summit. 

Abe took office during an economically tumultuous time and set about reviving Japan’s stagnant economy.

In 2012, shortly after being re-elected prime minister, he kicked off an ambitious economic policy popularly known as “Abenomics,” consisting of the three arrows of loose monetary policy, fiscal stimulus, and structural economic reforms.

Abe expanded Japan’s relationship with the United States within the framework of its long-standing security alliance. Aware that China was becoming more assertive, he also built close ties between Japan, Asia’s richest democracy, and India, the region’s most populous, as well as with other Southeast Asian and Pacific Island countries. 

The concept of the Quad was Abe’s. He envisioned a diamond of stronger regional democracies as a counterweight to Beijing through an informal gathering of Japan, India, Australia, and the United States. 

Other leaders of the Quad have expressed shock at the tragic assassination of Shinzo Abe.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, like many Indians, viewed Abe as a good friend. He declared a national day of mourning in India in honor of Abe on 9 July.

In a mark of respect for Abe, President Biden ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings to fly at half-staff through July 10.

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In Sydney, Australia, a red spotlight representing the rising sun illuminated the sails of the Opera House on the same day.

President Donald Trump with Then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi strengthening Indo-Pacific alliances
Then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) shakes hands with then- US President Barack Obama (right) in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, May 27, 2016.
Abe promotes the Tokyo Olympics by playing Mario from “Super Mario” at the closing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. August 21, 2016.

Abe played a role in securing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games for Japan, endearing himself to the public in the process. In 2016, during the Rio Games closing ceremony, he dressed up as Super Mario to introduce Tokyo as the next host city, which delighted video game fans around the world.

Abe (right) drives a golf cart with former US President Donald Trump, on May 26, 2019. Mobara City, Chiba Prefecture | Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
Abe confers with US president Trump and German Chancellor Andrea Merkle in June 2018.
Abe shaking hands with Megumi Yokota’s mother, Sakie at a national rally on the North Korean abductions issue on September 17, 2016, in Tokyo.
Shinzo Abe giving a keynote speech at the 44th Regular Symposium of the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies (JFSS) on the Taiwan Strait Crisis and Japan’s Security. At the Hotel Grand Hill Ichigaya, Tokyo, April 21, 2022 (Photo: Shunsuke Sakamaki).

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Author: Shaun Fernando

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