HONOLULU (KHON2) — The assassination of former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is sending shockwaves around the world.
Abe died on Thursday, July 7 after being shot during a campaign speech in Japan, ending an era of political dominance that outlasted his time in office.
Police said the 41-year-old assassin is a former Japanese Naval Veteran. He is currently in custody. Abe was the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history and a staunch ally of the U.S.
The tragedy and the shock are felt in Hawaii probably more than anywhere else outside of Japan.
In a country where gun violence just does not happen, the death of the former prime minister has people here still trying to make sense of it.
“Devastating, unbelievable, so uncharacteristic of anything Japanese,” said Eileen Clarke.
She is with a group called the Fukushima Kenjin Kai, in which members have relatives or ancestors in the area. She said there is a trust that has been broken which may never come back.
“A lot of people right here in Hawaii I know are personally impacted, because many of us have been really looking forward to returning to visit family,” said Clarke.
At Hawaii’s only Japanese station KZOO Radio, General Manager Robyn Furuya said there has been a sense of loss from callers.
“I feel so hurt by it, almost as if I knew him personally. It’s kind of very deep that hurt, our pride of being Japanese. It’s kind of like a loss in the family almost,” Clarke said.
Furuya met Abe when he visited in 2016 during a dinner where the governor presented Abe with an ukulele.
“There must’ve been over 1,000 tables there but he took the time to go to each table and made sure that everyone could get a photo with him,” said Furuya.
A Senior Fellow at the East-West Center points out that there will likely be some changes on how security is provided for dignitaries in the future.
“Japan will do a lot of thinking about increasing security for prominent folks and government and maybe other walks of life. And it’s a sad thing to see a crime like this having to force Japan to make changes like that,” said Denny Roy.
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The Japanese Consul General sent a statement saying it will be providing the public an opportunity to sign a book of condolences on Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1742 Nuuanu Ave.