‘Shocked’ and ‘saddened’ world leaders react to Shinzo Abe’s assassination

World leaders past and present expressed shock and sadness at the death of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated Friday at a political rally.

News of the shooting of modern Japan’s longest-serving prime minister reverberated around the globe and cast a spotlight on political violence and gun culture in the country and elsewhere.  

European Union leader Ursula von der Leyen called the attack a “brutal and cowardly murder,” adding that a “wonderful person, great democrat and champion of the multilateral world order has passed away.”

In Asia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Abe a “dear friend” and said his country would observe a national day of mourning on Saturday, “as a mark of our deepest respect.”

Wary of an assertive China, Abe developed close ties between Japan, Asia’s richest democracy, and India, the region’s most populous. He was a particularly vocal proponent of the Quad, an informal gathering of Japan, India, Australia and the United States that is a counterweight to Beijing.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol sent a letter of condolence to Abe’s wife, Akie, in which he called the shooting an “unacceptable crime.” 

Seoul has historically had a tense relationship with Tokyo, which colonized Korea, but Yoon has sought to develop closer ties since taking office this year.

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that it was “incredibly sad news” and said Abe’s “global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many.”

“We stand closely by Japan’s side in these difficult hours,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adding that the assassination left him “shocked and deeply saddened.”

The top Philippine diplomat, Enrique Manalo, remembered Abe for “establishing a very deep bond of friendship with our country.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking on the sidelines of a Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting in Indonesia, called the assassination “shocking.”