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Secretary Blinken to visit Japan and pay respects to former PM Abe

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make an unscheduled visit to Japan and pay respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the State Department said on Saturday.

Abe, an ally of the United States, was assassinated on Friday by Tetsuya Yamagami, an unemployed former sailor, according to NPR.

Blinken is on a tour around Asia and will fly into Tokyo where he will pay his respects and meet with senior Japanese officials before returning to Washington, Politico reports.

“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 will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Japan following the assassination.

After Abe was shot and killed, Blinken was reportedly in Indonesia attending a G-20 meeting with 20 foreign ministers.

“Prime Minister Abe was a transformative leader, a statesman, someone of truly global stature,” Blinken told reporters, according to Politico.

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.

Blinken will depart Sunday night for Tokyo from Bangkok, The Washington Post said.

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