President, prime minister express shock over Shinzo Abe assassination

Shinzo Abe (1954-2022), pictured here in 2020.
Shinzo Abe (1954-2022), pictured here in 2020. Source: SCANPIX/REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Estonian leaders have expressed their shock over Friday morning's shooting of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, who was in hospital in a "grave" condition at the time some of the responses were issued and whose death was announced after 12.00 p.m. Estonian time.

The prime minister and Estonian embassy in Japan had issued their responses prior to Mr Abe's death and at a time when he was hospitalized in a "grave" condition, while the head of state issued his response shortly after Mr Abe's death was announced.

President Alar Karis tweeted that he is: "Deeply shocked by the deadly attack against former Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo this morning. Mr Abe was a true friend of Estonia. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones and to the people of Japan."

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) wrote on her social media account soon after the attack that she was: "Shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting of Abe Shinzo. Such violence is also an attack against the very idea of democracy. Our thoughts are with you, your loved ones and all the people of Japan."

Kallas subsequently tweeted that Abe had been: "An outstanding leader and a close friend of Estonia. My deep condolences to his family and loved ones and to the people of Japan."

Acting foreign minister Andres Sutt (Reform) expressed his: "Deepest possible condolences to the family and loved ones of former prime minister Mr. Shinzo Abe. Mr. Abe was a true friend of Estonia, and he will be sorely missed," shortly after the former prime minister's passing was announced.

Estonia's embassy in Tokyo tweeted earlier on Friday that they were: "Deeply shocked by the attack on former Prime Minsiter Abe this morning. Mr Abe is a great friend of the EU. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the people of Japan."

Mr Abe was shot at twice while he was giving a speech in the southern city of Nara on Friday morning, the BBC reported, in a country where gun ownership is difficult and firearms violence is rare, as is political violence.

Sitting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said later on Friday that Mr Abe was in a "very grave condition"

His death was reported shortly after midday Estonian time.

The 67-year-old, who only left office in 2020 due to health issues, collapsed after the attack, which cause a bullet wound to the neck and also bleeding from the chest, from either one or both of the rounds fired.

While he was accompanied by a security detail, the shooter, identified as a 41-year-old Japanese national and local Nara resident, was able to get up close without being challenged, firing two rounds from what eye witnesses said was a large firearm.

The scene of the fatal attack on Mr Abe, in the southern Japanese city of Naru. Source: SCANPIX/Reuters/Kyodo

Government ministers and other prominent persons have been told to return to Tokyo if they are elsewhere in Japan.

Shinzo Abe held office in 2006 for a year, and then again for an unprecedented eight years, 2012-2020, in a country known for the rapid turnover of prime ministers, due to the political system in place.

A head of government is appointed by the emperor, currently Emperor Naruhito, after being designated by the bicameral legislature, the National Diet and must enjoy the confidence of the lower house, the House of Representatives.

Mr Abe had visited Estonia while prime minister of Japan, in early 2018, the first Japanese head of government to do so, meeting with then-president Kersti Kaljulaid.

In 2020, he met with then-prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) in Japan.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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