I am deeply saddened by the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier today while giving a speech in Nara, Japan.
That such a violent act could take place in a nation that has dedicated itself through its words and works to the goal of peace is truly heart-breaking. For it to be struck against such a strong and admirable leader as Abe adds to the depth of our grief. Justice demands that the perpetrators of this crime be held to account.
To take the life of one is to kill the whole of humanity, to save the life one is to save humanity, affirmed as one of the most important verses in the Quran, if not the essence of Islam as a Abrahamic faith of peace, which all other religious traditions concur.
Therefore Abe’s death is a matter of great importance.
The taking of the life of one of Asia’s stalwarts is hard to think upon, a deep tragedy I condemn as I condemn all acts of political violence. The rising tide of ideological hate and violence witnessed across the globe is a phenomenon which we must resist as a global community of brothers and sisters dedicated to peace. The forum for expressing differences of opinion has and continues to be by way of the avenue of vibrant debate and discussion, active civil society, and competitive elections.
That this attack took place in Nara is significant. An ancient city at the outskirts of Osaka, Nara is widely known as the key point of which the civilizations of China and Japan richly learned and gained from golden ages of each other during the former’s Tang Dynasty and the latter’s Heian Period. Modern Chinese and Japanese leaders have viewed Nara through the optic and prism of hope in each other’s future evolution forward as two Pacific neighbours. We should not lose sight of these signposts of civilizational comradery in the haze of confusion and anger which inevitably follow acts of violence and terrorism.
This event occurred during one of the most trying periods in modern Japanese history. The pandemic generated a downward spiral of lost incomes, joblessness, poor health and disrupted family life. In the aftermath of Covid-19 the entire world, including Japan and Malaysia, is confronted with the rising cost of living that is squeezing many households to the brink of poverty. We must continue to take proactive measures towards ensuring the mental health of all and sundry in light of these severe challenges.
All of us in Pakatan Harapan (Coalition of Hope) appreciate Abe’s efforts, as well as those of his equally distinguished father, and to carry Japan to the heights of peace and prosperity.
It was under Abe’s father, Foreign Minister Abe Shintaro that Malaysia’s Look East policy was launched in 1982. Malaysians will recall that it was in fact Abe’s grandfather, Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, who in 1957 visited Malaysia immediately following our independence to begin forging the brotherly ties between our nations in the spirit of the Asian Renaissance.
When Prime Minister Abe commemorated 50 years of Malaysia-Japan diplomatic relations in 2007 with his visit to Kuala Lumpur – his gesture was no less than the capstone on his family’s monumental legacy in forging an architecture of peace, stability and beneficial commerce with Malaysia and our Southeast Asian neighbours in pursuit of mutual development and advancement.
I was pleased that he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the International Islamic University of Malaysia this year in recognition of his contribution in politics as well as economics, an honour which no doubt extends to the role played by his earlier generations.
Azizah and I hold His Excellency Shinzo Abe and his family in our prayers as we mourn with the peace-loving people of Japan and with the rest of the world over this tragic loss. I hope that after Abe, many can continue to learn and be inspired by those who were a pivotal part of the Asian Renaissance to which many Malaysian are committed and always striving to emulate. Malaysia and Japan can honour Abe’s legacy by continuing to strengthen our collective bonds as a part of the Asian family dedicated towards peaceful and just futures.