Japan PM Kishida ‘lost for words’ after Abe assassination

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he was “lost for words” after the assassination of ex-premier Shinzo Abe on Friday, vowing that Japan’s democracy would “never yield to violence.”

“I was praying that his life would be saved, but despite that, I came to learn of (his death),” a visibly emotional Kishida told reporters.

“It is truly regrettable. I am lost for words. I offer my sincere condolences and prayers that his soul may rest in peace.”

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister who stepped down in 2020 for health reasons, was shot dead while campaigning in Nara region ahead of Sunday’s upper house election.

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“During this election period, a despicable and barbaric act was committed, taking the life of former prime minister Abe. This is unforgivable. We condemn it once again in the strongest terms,” Kishida said.

Election activities will continue with “full and thorough measures” taken to ensure safety, added Kishida, the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of which Abe was also a member.

“We must absolutely defend free and fair elections, which are the basis of democracy. We will proceed with our election campaign tomorrow as planned with the firm conviction that we will never yield to violence,” he said.

Abe “assumed a heavy responsibility as prime minister for eight years and eight months,” the longest period in modern history, added Kishida.

“He guided the country in the face of a difficult domestic and international situation through his outstanding leadership and executive ability.”

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