Residents react to the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Reactions continue to pour in over the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a campaign speech on Friday.

While his politics and tenure as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister were controversial, there is no doubt Abe, 67, was influential across the globe, and his death is sending shockwaves.

RELATED: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis describes former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as ‘a hell of an ally’ | Assassination of Japan’s Shinzo Abe stuns world leaders

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News4JAX spoke with two Japanese women who now live in Jacksonville and lead the Japanese Association of Jacksonville, where they spread cultural knowledge about art, food, music and peace.

Japanese cultural event (Japan Association of Jacksonville)

Megumi Mudrick, secretary of the Japan Association of Jacksonville, calls Abe’s murder “very sad”.

“Everyone is shocked. I spoke with my family this morning and people said I couldn’t believe it. It just happened. A gun, so it’s very rare,” Mudrick said.

Mudrick was born in Japan and lived there until 2018 with Abe as her chef.

“He is the longest prime minister in history and has done good things,” Mudrick said.

Kie Young is president of the Japanese Association of Jacksonville. Young’s grandfather was a councilor in Tokyo.

“I woke up, had to check my phone and saw that Ave had been murdered. I feel like this isn’t Japan. That can’t be true,” Young said. My grandfather was a politician, so he always gave public speeches, just like [Abe] in front of the station with tons of people around it. I never had to worry about him getting shot and killed. People spoke badly of him. I heard that before but I didn’t get shot. It’s just amazing.

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In Japan, gun violence is extremely rare due to gun laws. In 2021, 10 people are believed to have been shot from one death. That’s why Young said most people in the crowd at the time of the incident didn’t realize a shooting had happened and stood in place and didn’t disperse.

The Japanese Association of Jacksonville works hard in the community to connect people with other cultures. Although it’s a dark time for modern Japanese politics, Young said it’s another chance to preach peace.

“Most of us are all sad about this incident, but for the sad things that happened, I think we can really connect and love and care about each other,” Young said.

Florida politicians such as Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio have also made comments regarding Abe’s death.

“This senseless act of violence, which claimed the life of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, afflicts the world. During his tenure as Prime Minister, he was one of our most important allies in our efforts to build a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Rubio said.

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DeSantis shared his condolences at a press conference in Cape Coral, calling Abe a “great leader.”

“He understood freedom,” DeSantis said. “He understood the importance of having a strong relationship between the United States and Japan.”

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