Local officials share memories of Japan’s Shinzo Abe as he is laid to rest

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The hearse carrying Shinzo Abe’s body leaves Zojoji temple after his funeral in Tokyo on Tuesday (Photo courtesy AP)
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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed his shock at Friday’s assassination of former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

Abe was shot at a campaign event in the western city of Nara, near Kyoto, in an attack which shocked Japan where gun violence is virtually non-existent.

“I want to take this opportunity to extend condolences on behalf of the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda to the government and people of Japan on this very sad, extremely unfortunate event in which the former leader, former Prime Minister Abe, was assassinated,” Browne said.

He recalled meeting Prime Minister Abe months after being elected into office in 2014, saying the two had enjoyed good discussions on strengthening both the bilateral relationship between Antigua, Barbuda and Japan, and the relationship between Japan and Caricom.

“In that meeting we made significant progress on a number of areas of cooperation, even in the area of climate change, and that was an area in which we agreed to cooperate fully,” Browne continued.

“Japan, Antigua and Barbuda have had very strong bilateral relations for over 40 years from since Independence, and they have helped us to build capacity in a number of areas.

“In fact, the fish landing and distribution facilities that are scattered throughout the islands, those facilities are funded by Japan including the one in Barbuda,” Prime Minister Browne noted.

The country’s leader also highlighted Japan’s gift of US$2 million to assist with recovery after Hurricane Irma, along with a similar sum to help buy equipment to manage the sargassum seaweed plaguing the twin island nation’s coastline.

“The government and people of Japan have been very kind to the people of Antigua and Barbuda. And we certainly share deeply in this senseless loss in which an individual committed this most unfortunate and very senseless act and would have literally snuffed out the life of one of the most significant citizens in that country,” said Prime Minister Browne.

Abe’s funeral took place yesterday at Tokyo’s Zojoji Temple. He was Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister before he stepped down in 2020 citing health reasons.

 Meanwhile, OECS Ambassador Colin Murdoch yesterday visited the Japanese Embassy in Geneva and signed the official book of condolence for Abe on behalf of OECS member states.

In his entry, Ambassador Murdoch remarked that both Japan and the world had lost a visionary statesman and leader in tragic circumstances, and that the OECS member states, all of which had excellent relations with Japan, offered their deepest condolences to Abe’s family along with the government and people of Japan.

The ambassador recalled meeting Abe in 2014 and remarked that the pen with which he had signed the book of condolence had been given to him by Abe on that occasion.

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