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Abe: I pray for Nathan's soul to rest in peace

SINGAPORE — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Parliament House on Thursday (Aug 25) to pay his last respects to late former President S R Nathan, whose body is lying in state.

Abe: I pray for Nathan's soul to rest in peace

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pays respects to the late former President S R Nathan, whose body is lying in state, at Parliament House on Aug 25, 2016. Photo: Jason Quah

SINGAPORE — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday (Aug 25) paid his last respects to late former President S R Nathan at Parliament House, the first senior foreign leader to do so in person. 

Mr Nathan’s body is at Parliament House for the lying-in-state, which was open to the public on Thursday. His State Funeral takes place on Friday.

Mr Abe, who was accompanied by his wife Akie Abe, was on his way to a conference in Kenya, and had stopped over, according to a statement on the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. He was received by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and also met with Mr Nathan’s wife, Madam Urmila Nandey.  

Mr Abe also wrote a letter of condolence addressed to Mr Lee. In the letter, Mr Abe called Mr Nathan, who was the Republic’s sixth president, a “friend of Japan” who played a significant role in furthering the friendship of Japan and Singapore.

Noting that Mr Nathan spoke Japanese — Mr Nathan had been a translator during World War II — Mr Abe also paid tribute to Mr Nathan’s role in resolving the Laju ferry hijacking in 1974, which involved two members of the Japanese Red Army. 

The two, together with two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, had hijacked the ferry after trying to blow up the Shell oil refinery on Pulau Bukom, hoping to seek safe passage out of Singapore. 

Mr Nathan had led a team of Singapore officials to escort the hijackers to Kuwait to guarantee their passage. 

Mr Abe also noted that Mr Nathan was the first foreign dignitary to meet victims of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, during a state visit to Japan in 2009, and this was something Japan would never forget. 

Mr Abe added: “I will from the bottom of the heart pray for his soul to rest in peace.”

Meanwhile, Johor prince Tunku Idris Iskandar Ismail Abdul Rahman also arrived to pay his respects on Thursday.

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