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The US celebrates Abe as a “man of vision” as the family prepares the wake

#celebrates #Abe #man #vision #family #prepares #wake

Washington’s top diplomat hailed slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a “man of vision” as he offered his condolences Monday in Tokyo, where the family will later hold a wake for the slain politician.

Japan’s ruling coalition, meanwhile, declared victory in a somber election held on Sunday, just two days after Abe was gunned down while campaigning.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a previously unscheduled trip to Japan during an Asian tour and said he was there because “we’re friends, and when one friend gets hurt, the other friend shows up.”

Abe “has done more than anyone to take US-Japan relations to new heights,” he added after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

“We will do everything we can to help our friends bear the burden of this loss,” he said, calling Abe “a man of vision who has the ability to make that vision a reality.”

Blinken said he delivered letters from US President Joe Biden to Kishida for Abe’s family, who will hold a private wake for the country’s longest-serving prime minister at Tokyo’s Zojoji Temple later Monday.

High-ranking politicians and business figures are expected, with a family funeral at the same location on Tuesday and public memorials at a later date.

The suspect in Abe’s murder, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, is in custody and has told police he targeted the former leader because he believed he was linked to a certain organization whose name the authorities have not yet named.

According to Japanese media reports, he blamed the group, described as a religious organization, for his family’s financial problems because his mother had made large donations to them.

Investigative sources told local media that Yamagami, who spent three years in the Japanese Navy, watched YouTube videos to learn how to build homemade weapons like those used in the attack.

– election victory –

Sunday’s elections were held despite the assassination, with Kishida saying it was important to show violence would not defeat democracy.

Abe’s longtime ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito won 76 of the 125 upper house seats up for grabs, up from 69 seats they previously held, according to national news outlets.

Victory had been widely expected even before the assassination.

Both parties now belong to a two-thirds majority that is open to changing the country’s pacifist constitution. Abe has long sought to reform the document to recognize the country’s military.

Kishida, who took office in September, has pledged to tackle the pandemic, inflation and issues related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and there has been speculation Friday’s attack could bolster his support.

But voter turnout had increased only marginally and was still low at a reported 52 percent.

A record 35 female candidates were elected, and some fringe candidates won for the first time, including one from an anti-vaccination party.

Born into a political family, Abe became the country’s youngest post-war prime minister when he first took power in 2006 at the age of 52.

His hawkish, nationalist views were divisive, particularly his desire to reform Japan’s pacifist constitution to recognize the country’s military, and he weathered a series of scandals, including allegations of nepotism.

But he has been praised by others for his economic strategy, dubbed “Abenomics,” and his efforts to firmly place Japan on the world stage, including by cultivating close ties with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.

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