Biden ‘stunned’ and ‘outraged’ by Abe assassination

Associated Press/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, assassinated Friday during a speech in Japan, visited the White House while still in office in 2018.

President Biden said Friday that he was “stunned” and “outraged” by the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

“I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House. “This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.” 

“While there are many details that we do not yet know, we know that violent attacks are never acceptable and that gun violence always leaves a deep scar on the communities that are affected by it,” Biden continued.  

Biden noted that he worked with Abe when he served as vice president and called him a “champion” of the U.S.-Japan alliance. He offered condolences to the former prime minister’s family and expressed solidarity with the people of Japan.  

News of Abe’s assassination — which came in the early hours of the morning in the U.S. — set off global shockwaves on Friday. The former Japanese leader was shot from behind during a campaign speech in Nara, according to reports. He was airlifted to a hospital but later died. The shooting was particularly surprising because it occurred in a country with some of the world’s strictest gun laws.

Biden later told reporters following remarks on abortion access that he planned to stop by the Japanese embassy to sign a condolence book on the way to CIA headquarters Friday afternoon. He said that the weapon used to kill Abe was homemade, but added that the Justice Department was working to gather more information on the shooting.  

“Japan is a very, very stable ally and I do not believe it’s likely to have – I don’t know yet – likely to have any profound destabilizing impact on Japanese security or Japanese solidarity,” Biden said. 

Abe, who left office in 2020 after serving for eight years, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. 

While Biden as president has engaged with Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, he got to know Abe during his time serving alongside former President Obama.

Obama wrote in a tweet Friday that was “shocked and saddened” by the news of Abe’s death, calling the former prime minister “my friend and longtime partner.”

Abe delivered a memorable speech to a joint session of Congress in 2015 toward the end of the Obama administration, clips of which resurfaced on Friday with news of his passing.  

Other U.S. officials reacted with shock and outrage to the news. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is traveling in Bali to meet with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, called Abe an “extraordinary partner” and said his killing was “profoundly disturbing.”

“This is shocking. It’s profoundly disturbing in and of itself. It’s also such a strong personal loss for so many people,” Blinken told reporters.

Updated at 12:38 p.m.

Tags assassination Biden Joe Biden Shinzo Abe Shinzo Abe

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