Shinzo Abe’s killing: Disbelief, sadness for some Japanese, Singaporeans as hundreds sign condolence book
- Several Japanese, Singaporeans and other foreigners paid their respects at a remembrance event for the late Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe
- Some spoke of how they coped with their feelings of loss and shock
- The Japan Creative Centre is open from 10am to 5pm for the public to visit and pay their respects on July 12 and 13
SINGAPORE — In his line of work, Singaporean government servant Subhas Gopalakrishnan, 46, has had to work closely with foreign dignitaries during their official visits here and he had found the delegates from Japan to be "friendly, dedicated and focused in their work".
When he read about former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe being shot last Friday (July 8), he could not believe it. “I was at work when I read the newsflash. I was shocked.”
On Tuesday, Mr Subhas took time off work to attend a condolence book-signing held at the Japan Creative Centre, which comes under the Embassy of Japan here. He added that although he has not met Abe in person, he has met the current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Mr Subhas said that he had sent his written condolences to the Japanese Defence Attache to Singapore. Through his work, Mr Subhas said that he knew the attache personally.
"I felt that it was only polite that I sent him a condolence message and also to ask him how we could pay our respects. I recognise that Abe was a very respected leader among the Japanese, thus my effort to send my sympathies."
Other Singaporeans, as well as some Japanese and other foreigners, also turned up on Tuesday at the Japan Creative Centre, located along Nassim Road off the Orchard Road belt.
From 10am to 5pm, members of the public were admitted into the room in groups, with four at a time seated and writing their condolence messages in books.
The centre will continue to be open on Wednesday at the same timing for the public.
Many visitors arrived dressed in sombre-looking clothes, carrying white flowers and bowing reverentially to a photograph of Abe. There were a handful who left the place teary-eyed.
The unexpected assassination of the 67-year-old former Japanese leader stunned a nation where both gun crime and political violence are extremely rare. The suspected attacker was an unemployed man who wielded a homemade gun.
Earlier in the morning, over at the residence of Mr Jun Yamazaki, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching had paid their respects and signed a condolence book there.
The Embassy of Japan in Singapore, in a Facebook post on Tuesday, thanked Mr Lee and Madam Ho, and mentioned its appreciation of “the genuine friendship” that exists between Japan and Singapore.
“We hope to further deepen our bilateral ties by drawing on Prime Minister Abe's legacy,” the post read.
The Japan Creative Centre told TODAY that about 400 visitors had signed the condolence books there as of Tuesday evening.
Speaking to TODAY, Madam Tomomi Doto, 32, an office worker from Osaka who has lived here for seven years and is married to a Singaporean, recalled the moment she came across the news online at home.
“Even though his death was not confirmed, I had a sinking feeling that he was going to die. This is saddening.”
“I was really shocked. My friends here are mainly non-Japanese, I felt much alone with my feelings.A Japanese banker who lives by herself in Singapore, on the news of former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe's sudden death”
A Japanese banker in her 40s who gave her name as just “Magi” and who lives by herself in Singapore, said that in disbelief, she checked several Japanese news sources when she first learnt of the shooting.
“I was really shocked. My friends here are mainly non-Japanese, I felt much alone with my feelings,” she added.
Despite not being a supporter of Abe, Ms Magi, who is also from Osaka, felt that his leadership was strong.
“He built great rapport with leaders from overseas countries. I think that helped push up the Japanese brand name in the world. As an expat who works overseas, I appreciate this.”
Ms Yuka Sato, 39, an administrative executive in a Japanese company, said that the news of the shooting gave her “goosebumps” and she copes with her feelings by sharing her disbelief mainly with her Japanese friends in Singapore.
Coming from Kagawa prefecture in western Japan, she said through interpreters that armed violence in Japan is unusual. “Among gangsters, such incidents happen at times, but to regular people and especially to an ex-premier, it’s unthinkable.”
Her friend Yuko Yanagawa, 38, who works in a multinational corporation, said that if not for the tragedy, she would not have known the level of esteem and impact that Abe had in the international community.
“I received condolence messages from non-Japanese friends. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also posted a message of condolence on social media immediately after the news. All these have made us realise even more, the extent of our loss,” she said, adding that she remains concerned about the future of Japan.
Eight-year-old Yusuke Kobayashi, from Tochigi prefecture north of Tokyo, went to the centre with his parents and six-year-old brother. They had been in Singapore for the past half a year and he said that he felt angry and sad about what the shooter did.
Singaporean civil servant Ong Yao Ting, 27, who has travelled to Japan many times and has made many Japanese friends, felt that Abe had quite a profound impact on the Asia-Pacific region in the last eight years of his premiership. “I think for someone who loved his country to die in such a way, it's quite sad.”
Mr Gibson Teo, 29, a manager in a semiconductor manufacturing company, said that he went to the Japanese Creative Centre to attend an exhibition but found that it had been cancelled for the condolence book event.
He went ahead to make a tribute, stating that the incident brought up more questions.
“Often, such things boil up from under the surface — some kind of unhappiness that leads people to do this kind of thing. And it had to have been there simmering under the surface for quite a while,” he added.
A Vietnamese financial executive who gave her name as just “Lily”, 34, said that the loss had hit her badly. Visibly distraught, she said: “I believe that he was a nice person… We feel the loss of Japan and its people.”
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