BANGKOK (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will pay a brief condolence visit to Japan next week following the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the State Department said Sunday.
Blinken will travel to Tokyo on Monday to pay his respects to the former leader and meet with senior Japanese officials before returning to Washington from an Asian tour that he is now wrapping up.
“Secretary Blinken will travel to Tokyo, Japan, to offer condolences to the Japanese people on the death of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and to meet with senior Japanese officials,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “The U.S.-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and has never been stronger.”
Blinken is in Thailand on a pre-scheduled visit and had been in Indonesia on Friday attending a Group of 20 nations' foreign ministers meeting in Bali when Abe was shot and killed. He will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Japan in the aftermath of Abe’s death.
On Saturday in Bali, Blinken said Abe's killing was a “tragedy” for the world and, like many other current and former U.S. officials, lauded the former prime minister for his vision.
“Prime Minister Abe was a transformative leader, a statesman, someone of truly global stature,” Blinken told reporters. He added that Abe's death had shaken the G-20 meeting with many of his foreign minister colleagues expressing shock and distress at the news.
Shortly after Abe was pronounced dead, Blinken met in Bali with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin to review strategy mainly related to North Korea. In that meeting and again on Saturday, Blinken underscored the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship.
“The alliance between Japan and the United States has been a cornerstone of our foreign policy for decades and as I said yesterday, Prime Minister Abe really brought that partnership to new heights,” he said.
“The friendship between the Japanese and American people is likewise unshakable,” Blinken said. “So we’re standing with the people of Japan, with the prime minister’s family, in the aftermath of a truly, truly appalling act of violence.”
Matthew Lee, The Associated Press