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Gov. Ige orders flags at half-staff for former Japan PM Shinzo Abe, 'true friend of Hawaiʻi'

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with Gov. David Ige, First Lady Dawn Ige and two of their children at a reception at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on Dec. 26, 2016.
Office of Gov. David Ige
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with Gov. David Ige, First Lady Dawn Ige and two of their children at a reception at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on Dec. 26, 2016.

Gov. David Ige ordered U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff to honor former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling the assassinated ex-leader "a true friend of Hawaiʻi."

Because flags are already at half-staff honoring victims of an Independence Day parade shooting in Chicago, Ige said the flags will be lowered in Abe's memory from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, July 10.

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, speaks to media at the Prime Minister's official residence Friday, July 8, 2022, in Tokyo. Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan and was airlifted to a nearby hospital but he was not breathing and his heart had stopped, officials said. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Eugene Hoshiko/AP
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Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, speaks to media at the Prime Minister's official residence Friday, July 8, 2022, in Tokyo. Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan and was airlifted to a nearby hospital but he was not breathing and his heart had stopped, officials said. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Abe, 67, was assassinated on a street in the city of Nara by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack in a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere. Abe was airlifted to a hospital and later pronounced dead.

Police at the shooting scene arrested Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a former member of Japan’s navy, on suspicion of murder. Police said he used a gun that was obviously homemade.

“I'm devastated by the news of former Prime Minister Abe’s assassination. This senseless act of violence has taken the life of a true friend of Hawaiʻi," Ige said in a statement. "In our multiple meetings, we shared stories of our past, embraced our common culture, and continued the quest for reconciliation and partnership that has developed between the United States and Japan."

"Dawn and I extend our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, Prime Minster Abe’s wife, Akie and the family members and friends of this world leader who exemplified the aloha spirit and lived his life seeking peace in the world,” he added.

Ige's flag order applies to the Hawaiʻi State Capitol in Honolulu, state offices and agencies and the Hawaiʻi National Guard.

Abe was Japan's longest-serving leader before stepping down in 2020 citing health issues. Despite leaving office, he remained influential within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and continued to be a force on Japan's political landscape.

President Joe Biden also ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House, all public buildings, all military posts, all United States embassies, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

A condolence book open to the page President Joe Biden signed for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on Friday while campaigning, rests on a table at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Washington, Friday, July 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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AP
A condolence book open to the page President Joe Biden signed for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on Friday while campaigning, rests on a table at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Washington, Friday, July 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

"Abe Shinzo was a proud servant of the Japanese people and a faithful friend to the United States," Biden said in a statement. "Even in the moment he was attacked and killed, he was engaged in the work of democracy, to which he dedicated his life."

Biden said he was “stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened,” and he visited the residence of Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. on Friday to offer condolences. He placed a bouquet of flowers on a table set up near a koi pond and wrote in a condolence book that Abe was “a man of peace and judgment.”

Back in Honolulu, Consul General Yutaka Aoki said Abe "made tremendous contributions to building international cooperation towards peace and prosperity in the region."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, greets U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, center right, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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AP
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, greets U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, center right, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, an immigrant born in Japan who was the first Asian and Japanese American woman to serve in the Senate, said in a statement, "Prime Minister Abe was a transformational figure in Japan who dedicated his life in service of his country. A friend to the United States, Prime Minister Abe fought for the Japanese people and strengthened the relationship between our two countries."

"This senseless murder was a barbaric act—and one that I condemn in the strongest terms possible," Hirono said.

Hawaiʻi's four mayors also sent their condolences with Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth saying, "No matter our views toward our elected officials, violence should never be the answer."

During a visit to Hawaiʻi in 2016, Abe met with former President Barack Obama and visited Pearl Harbor, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the Ehime Maru Memorial.

"I will always remember the work we did to strengthen our alliance, the moving experience of traveling to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor together, and the grace he and his wife Akie Abe showed to me and Michelle. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan who are very much in our thoughts at this painful moment," Obama said in a statement.

Consul General Aoki said the public can sign a book of condolences on July 8 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and July 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1742 Nuuanu Ave. in Honolulu.

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