Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has offered his “deepest sympathies” to the family of assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who he described as “one of Australia’s closest friends on the world stage”.
Mr Albanese issued a statement on the tragedy shortly after it was confirmed Mr Abe had died after he was shot from behind while campaigning for Sunday’s upper house election in the western city of Nara.
“The tragic death of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is devastating news,” Mr Albanese said.
“On behalf of the Australian Government and people, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to Mrs Abe and to Mr Abe’s family and friends, and to the people of Japan.”
Mr Albanese said Mr Abe was “one of Australia’s closest friends on the world stage”.
“It was his vision that helped elevate our bilateral relationship to a Special Strategic Partnership in 2014,” he said.
“Under his leadership Japan emerged as one of Australia’s most like-minded partners in Asia – a legacy that endures today.
“Mr Abe was a leader in the Indo-Pacific, championing a vision of a free and open region.
“The Quad and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are in many ways the results of his diplomatic leadership.”
Mr Albanese added: “Mr Abe was also a giant on the world stage – a leader in the G7, the G20 and the United Nations. His legacy was one of global impact, and a profound and positive one for Australia.”
“Just a few days after being sworn in as Prime Minister, I had the privilege of travelling to Japan for the Quad meeting. In many ways, this grouping is a legacy of Mr Abe’s diplomatic activism,” he said.
“Mr Abe was the longest-serving Prime Minister in Japanese history.
“He will be greatly missed.”
Mr Albanese’s heartfelt words came after one-time WA Premier Richard Court, Australia’s ambassador to Japan between 2017 and 2020, described Mr Abe as a “wonderful friend of Australia” – and WA in particular.
“It’s terrible news because former Prime Minister Abe has been a wonderful friend of Australia, he’s been a very strong supporter of strengthening the Australia-Japan relationship,” Mr Court said after the shooting.