President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday ordered public institutions to fly the nation’s flag at half-mast tomorrow to honor former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was killed on Friday after being shot during a campaign event in western Japan.
All Taiwanese flags at government buildings and public schools across Taiwan will be flown at half-mast for one day to honor Abe’s decades-long contributions to promoting bilateral ties between Taiwan and Japan, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said in a statement.
The move is also intended to show that Taiwan stands with Japan in firmly defending freedom and democracy, Chang said, adding that Abe was a staunch supporter of Taiwan.
He said that Abe helped facilitate Japan’s donation of 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan last year amid a shortage, and lauded the quality of Taiwanese pineapples on social media after China blocked imports of the fruit in August last year.
Abe was also the forerunner in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and had repeatedly underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Chang added.
Abe died on Friday evening, at the age of 67, hours after being shot twice during an election campaign in Nara, Japan. A 41-year-old suspect was arrested at the scene.
Taiwanese politicians across the political spectrum have expressed their condolences, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) denouncing the assassination as “violating the basic principles of a democratic and rule-based society.”
Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) said that Tsai would decide whether Taiwan is to send a parliamentary delegation to Japan to pay tribute to Abe, whose funeral has been set for Tuesday.
You said that Abe had agreed to visit the nation and planned to give a speech at the Legislative Yuan, but “sadly, that won’t be happening anymore.”
“Abe will be forever missed by Taiwanese,” You added.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) said that the National Palace Museum could be used to hold a special exhibition in memory of Abe at its southern branch in Chiayi County.
The branch had previously hosted exhibitions featuring Japanese culture, including works of art from the Tokyo National Museum, Kyushu National Museum and Kobe City Museum, making it a good fit to hold such a special event to enable Taiwanese to learn more about Abe’s life and his relations with Taiwan, he added.
Additional reporting by Wang Chien-hao and Lin Yi-chang
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