Queues formed outside the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong on Monday to add to a book of condolence for the late former leader Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead last week.

The condolences book will be open at the consulate’s Central premises for two days, until Tuesday, according to a statement from the mission. Some people who visited also brought white funeral flowers, according to Commercial Radio.

Photo of the book of condolence for the late former Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe. Photo: Consulate-general of Japan in Hong Kong.

Japanese nationals who live in Hong Kong were reportedly among the mourners. One of them told local media outlets that she was shocked by the news and could not believe it, as violence was not tolerated in Japan and shooting cases were rare.

Some Hongkongers also went to pay tribute to the late Japanese leader, describing Abe as a great politician.

Rem, a Hongkonger who was among those paying respects, told HKFP that he knew about Abe’s work as a leader because he was interested in Japanese culture. “A lot of politicians in the world cannot compare to him,” he said.

He added that he understood that the Japanese people had lost an “excellent and capable” politician, and that he hoped they know that a lot of Hong Kong people care about the incident.

By afternoon, at least a dozen were queuing to pay their respects, according to an HKFP reporter on the scene.

The Japanese flag at half-mast at Exchange Square, Central on July 11, 2022. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The Japanese consulate was also flying its national flag at half-mast.

Abe was killed last Friday at a political campaign event in Nara, Japan. He was shot while giving a speech on stage. The 67-year-old was rushed to hospital but died hours later.

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. Photo: Wikicommons.

Japanese media identified 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami as the suspect, citing police sources. Other outlets reported he was an ex-member of Japan’s navy – the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Local media described his weapon as a “handmade gun,” whilst broadcaster NHK said he told police after his arrest that he targeted Abe “with the intention of killing him.”

Official condolences

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee offered their condolences on Saturday, a day after Abe passed away.

“Xi pointed out that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made efforts to improve China-Japan relations when he was in office and contributed positively to this endeavour. Xi noted that he had reached important common understanding with Abe on building a China-Japan relationship that meets the need of the new era,” a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs read.

Shinzo Abe giving a speech before he was shot. Photo: NHK screenshot.

Lee’s statement meanwhile said “Hong Kong and Japan maintained closely co-operative relations” when Abe was the prime minister and that the two places “made positive progress in various areas including economic and trade affairs, tourism and cultural exchanges.”

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.