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Hawaiʻi leaders mourn loss of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

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KIEV, UKRAINE – Jun 06, 2015: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his meeting with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. PC: ©palinchak/123RF.COM

Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige has ordered that the United States flag and the Hawaiʻi state flag be flown at half-staff to honor the memory of former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The flags are already at half-staff honoring victims of the Highland Park shooting until sunset on Saturday, July 9, but will remain lowered from sunrise to sunset on July 10, 2022 in Abe’s honor.

Abe reportedly died after being shot during a campaign speech on Friday in Japan. Authorities reportedly detailed the suspected gunman near the site.

“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,” said Gov. Ige. “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.”

Governor David Ige with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2016) PC: Dec. 26, 2016 courtesy Office of Gov. David Ige.
Governor David Ige with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2015) PC: June 16, 2015 courtesy Office of Gov. David Ige.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino also released a statement saying, “Joycelyn and I extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to the family of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the people of Japan.

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“Prime Minister Abe will be remembered not only as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, but also for his work in seeking world peace and strengthening relationships throughout the Pacific.

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“Maui County’s residents share deep cultural ties with Japan, and our bonds of friendship remain strong with our Sister Cities: Hachijo Island, Tokyo; Hirara City, Miyako Island, Okinawa; and Fukuyama City,” he said.

US Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaiʻi released a statement saying she was “shocked and deeply saddened” by today’s events. She described Abe as a “transformational figure” who strengthened the relationship between Japan and the US.

Sen. Hirono (D-HI), an immigrant born in Japan who was the first Asian and Japanese American woman to serve in the United States Senate, called Prime Minister Abe “a friend to the US,” who “fought for the Japanese people and strengthened the relationship between our two countries.”

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“I’ve had the privilege of meeting Prime Minister Abe a number of times, including during a State dinner at the White House in 2015, as well as during official trips to Japan in 2013 and 2017. During our most recent meeting, we discussed a number of topics, including the importance of the trilateral alliance of the United States, Japan and South Korea,” said Sen. Hirono, calling the shooting a “senseless murder” and a “barbaric act.”

Sen. Hirono shared her condolences with Ambassador Tomita this morning to Prime Minister Abe’s family and to the people of Japan.

“As an immigrant born in Japan, I join President Biden and stand with the Japanese people during this time. We will honor Prime Minister Abe’s legacy by continuing to work to strengthen our relationship with Japan, which is a critical ally in protecting the security of the Indo-Pacific region and plays a vital role in Hawaiʻi’s economy and culture,” said Sen. Hirono. 

On behalf of the Maui County Council, Council Chair Alice L. Lee today offered her condolences to the family of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“The council mourns the loss of a leader with great vision and an ally to both the United States and Hawaii through his advocacy to strengthen our relationship with Japan,” Lee said. “We also send our aloha to the people of Japan during this time of tragedy and grief.” 

Lee said the people of Maui County and the people of Japan have a close relationship, through family connections, cultural exchanges, tourism and economic ties. She noted the County of Maui has long-standing sister-city relationships with Fukuyama City, Tokyo’s Hachijo Island and Hirara City, on Miyako Island, Okinawa.

Lee said Abe’s influence on national security, economic policy and the promotion of a free and open Indo-Pacific will live on as his legacy.

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