Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations

A message from Frank Jannuzi, President and CEO of the Mansfield Foundation.

Dear Mansfield Foundation Family:

I am shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic murder of Shinzo Abe today. My deepest condolences go out to all the people of Japan, and especially to our team in Tokyo: Teruyo, Naomi, and Ayako.

Prime Minister Abe was deeply devoted to the Alliance. Like Ambassador Mansfield, PM Abe understood the partnership to be the most important bilateral relationship for Japan, bar none.

As the longest serving and most consequential Japanese leader in the modern era, Shinzo Abe transformed Japan’s global role, energizing its foreign policy, greatly expanding its global influence, and helping to shore up the liberal democratic order. His policies were not universally welcomed at home or abroad, but I knew him to be a warm, sincere leader who was motivated by a strong sense of purpose and devotion to the Japanese people and the cause of global peace and security.

On a personal note, I had the privilege to interact with PM Abe on several occasions, and always found him genuine, friendly, welcoming, and a great listener. In private, he spoke modestly, and engaged his guests in heartfelt and sincere conversations. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and put guests at ease.

Abe-san cared deeply about issues such as the abduction of Japanese citizens by the DPRK. In fact, it was that issue that led to our first meeting in 2003, when he was serving as Chief Cabinet Secretary. He spent several hours with me and my colleague Keith Luce after our visit to the DPRK. On this issue Abe demonstrated the focus and drive that sustained his remarkable life of public service.

Perhaps because gun violence is ubiquitous in the USA, we may lose sight of the fact that it is extremely rare in Japan, where annual gun murders are counted on one hand instead of by the thousands. This event is tragic and deeply shocking.

I hope all of us will reflect on the life of Shinzo Abe today, and rededicate ourselves to the values we share, especially our mutual respect for peace and human rights.

To our team in Tokyo, my deepest sympathy and condolences. I share your grief and horror at the day’s events. Please take care and find time to pause and reflect and grieve.

To the members of MFP 26, I am so sorry your arrival in Japan coincides with this tragedy. I know you will do your best to emulate the empathy and compassion that Mike and Maureen Mansfield always showed to the people of Japan in times of tragedy.

To the members of our Board, and especially our Japanese friends, I also express my personal condolences. Many of you knew Shinzo Abe personally and all share his special commitment to the U.S.-Japan friendship. That makes this tragedy both personally and professionally devastating.