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Shinzo Abe – (21 September 1954 – 8 July 2022)

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Abe was seen as one of Japan’s most progressive-minded prime ministers.

During a campaign speech today, Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died after being shot in Nara. Abe was pronounced dead by his doctors at the Nara Medical University hospital early this morning. Police have arrested the shooting suspect, a 41-year-old unemployed man who admitted to shooting Abe. According to police, the suspect has strong feelings against a certain group to which he believed Abe was linked. 

Abe was born on September 21, 1954, to a prominent political family with economic influence throughout pre-war, wartime, and post-war Japan. He was first elected to the first district of Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1993; in 1999 and became Director of the Social Affairs Division. He was Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Yoshiro Mori and Junichiro Koizumi Cabinets from 2000-2003, after which he was appointed Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party. 

Abe served two terms as Prime Minister and President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history. Abe resigned as prime minister because of medical complications from Ulcerative colitis. After recovering, he staged an unexpected political comeback in 2012. 

“The assassination of Shinzo Abe is incredibly shocking – and I’m deeply saddened. The world has lost a great man of vision, and Canada has lost a close friend. My thoughts are with his wife, Akie, and the people of Japan as they mourn this loss. You’ll be missed, my friend”. Said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 

In 70 years, Abe brought about the most significant shift in Japanese military policy and increased defense spending. During his term, Abe sought to improve relations with Beijing and held a historic phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2018. At the same time, he tried uniting Pacific allies to counter Chinese expansion in the region. 

Abe argued that change was needed to respond to a more challenging security environment, a nod to a more assertive China and frequent missile tests in North Korea. After leaving office, Abe remained head of the most significant fraction of LDP and remained influential within the party. 

“Former Prime Minister Abe was devoted to both the country he served and the extraordinary alliance between the United States and Japan,” 

“I will always remember the work we did to strengthen our alliance, the moving experience of traveling to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor together, and the grace he and his wife Akie Abe showed to me and Michelle. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan who are very much in our thoughts at this painful moment.” Obama said in a statement. 

Japan reported only one death due to firearms in 2021, according to the National Police Agency, and a total of ten firearm-related incidents. The highest number of firearm-related deaths per year in the past five years was four. This information shows how rare gun violence is in Japan due to its strict gun ownership laws and thorough background check processes. The pathway to gun ownership takes 13 steps, including taking a firearm class, passing a written exam, and having a doctor declare them mentally fit with no history of drug dependency. 

The passing of Abe is being felt globally, and world leaders continue to send condolences to the Japanese people. A date has yet to be set for Abe’s funeral, but it is expected to be attended by many world leaders who had the utmost respect for him.