The appalling news that broke yesterday is still being absorbed. Shinzo Abe, the former Prime Minister of Japan, and great friend to Australia, the US, UK, Canada, and other allies, now lies dead at the hands of an assassin. People around the world will mourn the loss of a leader who valued democracy and peace and who worked to counter the growing threat of totalitarianism in the Pacific region.
Defending Tibet, steering Japan’s recovery after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, securing the Olympics (with his legendary cameo as Super Mario), fostering international cooperation, and honouring traditional Japanese culture, Shinzo Abe showed the world that patriotism and internationalism go hand in hand. They are not contradictory.
In an interview with Time Magazine in 2014, Abe described a lesson that he learned from his father, former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe:
I have learned that being a politician is not an easy job. My father was trying to make progress in the peace treaty with the Soviet Union. At that time he was suffering from last-stage cancer, but he visited Moscow in the bitter cold. I learned from my father that you may have to risk your own life to make such a historic accomplishment.
Whatever the motivation of the assassin is determined to be, the world will remember that Shinzo Abe, like his father, gave his life to his country, and to the pursuit of a peaceful future. The alliance of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States—the 4-nation Quad—will live on after Abe’s death. No crazed shooter can weaken Abe’s legacy of fostering international cooperation, or his spirit of Japanese patriotism. May his legacy be a bulwark in the uncertain days ahead.