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Archbishop of Tokyo: "Violence kills democracy. Violence kills freedom. Violence kills justice."

Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, SVD, Archbishop of Tokyo (Credit: Archdiocese of Tokyo)

Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi condemned the assassination of the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, saying that no one has the right to stifle criticism with violence. 

"Violence kills democracy. Violence kills freedom. Violence kills justice. The differences of political opinion have to be solved through dialogue and voting in freedom. Only dialogue provides real solution to establish justice and peace," the Archbishop told RVA News.

The Ex-PM Abe was campaigning for local candidates in Nara when he was shot in the back at close range with a handmade gun.

The 67-year-old Abe was evacuated to a hospital, but officials reported that he had stopped breathing and his heart had stopped. The hospital later confirmed his death. Police apprehended the suspect, but no motive has been provided.

"I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear the news of the attack on the former prime minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe. I feel not only sadness but also indignation as this is a violent challenge to what we believe in this country," the Archbishop said.

"Though we, Catholic Bishops of Japan, and the late Prime Minister had great differences in opinion over several issues, including nuclear disarmament, nuclear energy policy, and the pacifist constitution, including the understanding of article 9, Mr. Abe showed great respect to the Catholic Church, particularly to the Holy See, as he must have understood the influence of the Holy Father on international society over the peace issue," said the Archbishop. 

"That respect for the Holy Father resulted from the pastoral visit of the Holy Father to Japan in November 2019." Mr. Abe and the Holy Father met in Tokyo for a private discussion on several issues, and both agreed to continue to advocate for a world without nuclear weapons, the eradication of poverty, human rights, and the protection of the environment,” said the Archbishop, adding that, as we know, both leaders aim for the same goals, but their approaches to achieving the goal were not the same.

Abe is Japan's longest-serving prime minister, having served twice, from 2006-2007 and then from 2012-2020. His ideas on remilitarizing Japan and his revisionist views on Japan's behavior during World War II were controversial. He was a member of the liberal Democratic Liberal Party.

“No one has right to use violence to silence opposition." The Archbishop concluded by saying that the contribution of Mr. Abe to this country should be duly respected, and I pray for his eternal rest and blessings to his family members. 


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