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#trending: Moving graduation speech by Shinzo Abe draws interest in wake of his death; dubbed a 'will' for Japan's youth

OSAKA, JAPAN — A video of the late Shinzo Abe delivering a commencement speech at Kindai University's graduation ceremony has regained attention on YouTube following his demise, with 2.6 million views and counting. The address was delivered on March 19, less than four months before the former prime minister's assassination on July 8. 
The late Shinzo Abe delivering a commencement speech at Kindai University's graduation ceremony on March 19, 2022.
The late Shinzo Abe delivering a commencement speech at Kindai University's graduation ceremony on March 19, 2022.
  • A video featuring former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in March has drawn the attention of online users
  • It was a commencement speech at a graduation ceremony that he gave a few months before his assassination 
  • In the speech to graduates of Kindai University, Abe spoke about the setbacks he suffered in his political career
  • Some viewers have even dubbed the speech as Abe's "will to young Japanese people" and called for it to be used in textbooks
  • Others suggested that it be broadcast during the politician's state funeral later in the year

OSAKA, JAPAN — A video of the late Shinzo Abe delivering a commencement speech at Kindai University's graduation ceremony has regained attention on YouTube following his demise, with 2.6 million views and counting. The address was delivered on March 19, less than four months before the former prime minister's assassination on July 8

It is unclear how many views the clip had before the attack, but before Abe's assassination, the video on the university's official YouTube channel had less than 600 comments.

After news of the shooting, YouTube viewers began flooding the comments section of the video, which has now received more than 5,500 comments.

In the video, Abe spoke about his health issues and a "crushing defeat" by his party in an upper house election that led to him quitting as prime minister in 2007 and how he made a comeback in 2012 in the midst of much scepticism.

He urged the graduates to face failure with strength, resilience and courage, much like he had to do when many thought it was the end of his political career.

Speaking without a script, Abe recounted how he had lost confidence as a politician after his first term ended in 2007 after only a year.

He said that it was the fighting spirit of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami survivors that had spurred him on to do more in politics.

"I saw victims of the earthquake and tsunami, who were striving to revive their hometowns. I realised it was my mission to restore a strong economy so that they can (do so). With this resolution, I ran for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party," he added.

"Why was I able to become prime minister again, which had been regarded as impossible? It wasn’t because I was an exceptional person… it was not because I was particularly strong either. It was simply because I didn’t give up and because I was encouraged to never give up."

Abe also attributed his success to having exceptional colleagues who shared the same goals.

Touching briefly on the rocky path to success by Walt Disney, the American founder of entertainment giant Walt Disney Company, Abe spoke about how American society provides its people with ample opportunities to rise above failure.

He said that he had been striving to transform Japanese society into one that dared to take on challenges, too.

"My young friends, I urge you to take on challenges and if you fail, rise up again. Combine your power and vitality to make the world better," he exhorted before concluding his speech by congratulating the graduates. 

The video has received more than 85,000 likes since it was uploaded on March 28.

One top comment left on July 11 read: "It's amazing to be able to make such an inspirational speech without a manuscript, as expected from the former prime minister." 

Many viewers said that his words had moved them to tears and expressed sadness over his death.

One wrote: "My eyes are overflowing with tears. Former prime minister Abe, please watch over Japan in heaven."

Others thanked the longest-serving Japanese prime minister for his contributions to the country and prayed that his legacy would live on: "We always realise how important people are after losing them. May the future of Japan be the same as what Mr Abe was aiming for."

A few viewers have even dubbed the speech as Mr Abe's "will to young Japanese people" and proposed that it be handed down to future generations through textbooks, while others called for it to be broadcast during the politician's funeral.

For some, the speech was a source of encouragement.

One viewer wrote: "I had given up on my life, but when I saw this speech, Mr Abe's words gave me courage. I decided to do my best again. I will not let his death be in vain."

An outpouring of tributes also came from the international community, with many acknowledging his contributions to their respective countries and the world. 

One Taiwanese online user wrote: "Prime minister Abe, you have shielded us from the wind and rain with your wisdom and body. Let us always enjoy the freedom that most people think is free."

An Indonesian user shared: "I couldn't hold back my tears realising we won't be able to listen to his speech anymore in future. Such a valuable legacy."

Japan had announced that it will hold a state funeral for Abe this autumn.

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Shinzo Abe japan YouTube graduation ceremony speech Politics death

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