July 11 (BP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered condolences to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday over the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Blinken made the stopover in Tokyo at the end of his trip to Asia for the G20 Foreign Minister’s Meeting to offer condolences on behalf of the American people over the death of Abe, who was shot dead late last week in western Japan while giving a campaign speech for a Liberal Democratic Party candidate ahead of Sunday’s upper house of parliament elections.
The United States’ top diplomate told reporters at Yokota Air Base Tokyo after meeting with Kishida that he was asked by U.S. President Joe Biden to personally visit the Asian nation.
Blinken also shared with Kishida a letter Biden had written for the Abe family.
“I shared with our Japanese colleagues the sense of loss, the sense of shock that we all feel, the American people feel, at this horrific tragedy and killing,” he said. “It’s such a loss, too, because during his time in office, Prime Minister Abe really took the relationship between our countries to new heights.”
Blinken called Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, “a man of vision who had the ability to realize that vision” while also describing the relationship between Japan and the United States as a friendship.
“And when a friend is hurting, other friends show up,” he said. “We try to help ease the burden, share the sense of loss and give a shoulder, and that’s what we’re trying to do today.”
During their meeting, Kishida expressed his gratitude to Blinken for the sudden visit and for Biden’s sympathy over the tragedy, according to a readout of the discussion from Japan’s foreign affairs ministry.
He also reiterated his desire to continue Abe’s work in strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Abe was died Friday, hours after being shot in the back while giving a speech at Kintetsu Railway in Nara, located about 235 miles southwest of Tokyo.