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A Tribute to Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (1) [2022年08月10日(Wed)]
The Japanese government has decided to hold a state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Nippon Budokan arena in central Tokyo on September 27.

He died after being shot during an election campaign speech in the western Japanese city of Nara on July 8. Mr. Abe was the longest serving prime minister in the country’s history, serving two separate terms from 2006 to 2007 and from 2012 until he stepped down in 2020 due to ill health.

On the afternoon of July 10, I visited his home to extend my sincerest condolences on his tragic passing. He lived in a condominium, quite rare for a national leader, making me believe that he was one of the few world leaders to lead such a modest life.

Mr. Abe was laid out on a futon mattress in a very natural way. He did not have the anguished expression of one who has endured suffering; his was a peaceful and beautiful face transcending everything, and it was as if the Buddha was quietly sleeping. I sat before him for a while with my head bowed, then put my hands together in prayer.

As NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, reported, I was among those who paid tribute to him on that day; others included vice president Taro Aso of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its secretary-general Toshimitsu Motegi, and Mr. Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief representative of the Komeito, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, as well as Mr. Sadayuki Sakakibara, honorary chair of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the nation’s top business lobby. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida paid his respects on July 9.

Mr. Abe aimed to create “‘a beautiful country, Japan,’ a country admired and respected by people in the world, a country our children's generation can have self-confidence and pride in.” (From his policy speech on September 29, 2006, upon becoming the prime minister of Japan.) He talked resolutely about his political convictions, yet occasionally gave a gentle and friendly smile.

Remembering his great achievements in foreign and domestic affairs until recently, I felt various emotions come and go−regret, sadness, anger.

Mr. Abe was known for coining the phrase, “A free and open Indo-Pacific,” a concept spanning both the Indian and Pacific oceans that he first promoted in a 2007 speech to the Indian Parliament titled the "Confluence of the Two Seas."

With those few words, Mr. Abe transformed the way many foreign policy leaders talk−and think−about Asia. “That phrase is everywhere. It is used like a mantra by the US military and is the vocabulary of choice for any aspiring Western diplomat,” CNN said.

Not only Japan but the whole world that has lost a great leader as indicated by messages of condolence sent by leaders of more than 250 countries, regions, and international organizations.

(To be continued)
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:41 | OTHERS | URL | comment(0)