On the morning of July 11, President Tsai Ing-wen visited the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association to pay her respects to former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo of Japan, who passed away three days prior. President Tsai stated that today all of Taiwan's government agencies and public schools are flying the national flag at half-staff in mourning of the former prime minister. The president also expressed her deepest condolences to former Prime Minister Abe's family on behalf of the people and government of Taiwan, and reiterated her strong condemnation of the violent and illegal act that led to his death.
President Tsai expressed her gratitude to the former prime minister for his contributions to the Taiwan-Japan relationship, and emphasized that going forward our two countries will continue to cooperate closely, deepen bilateral ties, and jointly uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific region, while working together to advance even more fruitful collaboration.
After arriving at the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, President Tsai laid a wreath and bowed before a photograph of former Prime Minister Abe, before writing a message commemorating the former prime minister, "Taiwan's eternal friend, thank you for your contributions to the Taiwan-Japan friendship and to democracy, freedom, human rights, and peace around the world."
In remarks, President Tsai said that former Prime Minister Abe was an old friend who she had known for more than 10 years, and recalled his warm smile and greeting at their online meeting this past March, noting that during that meeting, they had both expressed hope of seeing each other in Taiwan soon.
President Tsai also said that Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) had recently mentioned that the former prime minister had promised to visit Taiwan, and that his friends in Taiwan were discussing activities and plans they had made for his visit. The president stated that this all reflects how close interactions were between the former prime minister and Taiwan as fellow partners in progress, and said that we are all deeply saddened at his passing.
Noting that over the past few days, people from all over Taiwan have come to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association to leave messages of remembrance and thanks for former Prime Minister Abe, President Tsai mentioned that Taiwan's government agencies and public schools today lowered the national flag to half-staff in mourning, and expressed her deepest condolences to the family of the former prime minister on behalf of the people and government of Taiwan. The president also reiterated that we condemn in the strongest terms the violent and illegal act that took the former prime minister's life.
Calling him a leader deeply admired across the international community and one who dedicated his life to upholding democracy, freedom, and respect for human rights, President Tsai said that former Prime Minister Abe was also a good friend of Taiwan who visited on multiple occasions and made great efforts to advance Taiwan-Japan ties and bilateral exchanges.
President Tsai further noted that, over the past several years, former Prime Minister Abe had always extended a helping hand to Taiwan, whether when recovering from earthquakes or during challenges posed by the pandemic, and had spoken up forcefully for Taiwan in the international arena, actively supporting Taiwan's international participation. The president said that his friendship and warmth to Taiwan will always live on in our hearts.
President Tsai observed that over the past few days in both Taiwan and Japan, many people have gone back to watch the video of former Prime Minister Abe playing the piano in his tribute to those who died in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. In that video, the former prime minister expressed his hope to join everyone in embracing the spirit of mutual support and meeting challenges, a spirit which President Tsai believes Taiwan and Japan have in common.
President Tsai emphasized that in the past, our countries helped each other in many challenges, and said that as we mourn former Prime Minister Abe together, we will remember his expectations for Taiwan-Japan cooperation. The president added that, going forward, Taiwan and Japan will continue to work together hand-in-hand, deepen our bilateral friendship, and jointly develop a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
President Tsai closed her remarks by once again thanking former Prime Minister Abe for his contributions to Taiwan-Japan relations, saying that, like in the song that he played, "Flowers Will Bloom," we will keep working together so that our bilateral collaboration can continue to blossom and bear fruit.
Secretary-General to the President David T. Lee (李大維), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), and Chief Representative of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office Izumi Hiroyasu also attended the event.