Big names pay their respects to assassinated Abe
President Yoon Suk-yeol and other Korean political and business leaders visited a memorial altar in Seoul to pay their respects to assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Tuesday.
Yoon visited the mourning altar at the Japanese Embassy's public information and cultural center in central Seoul and spent several minutes in silence in front of Abe's portrait.
He signed a guestbook.
"I offer my prayer for the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who devoted himself to the prosperity and development of Asia," he wrote. "I extend my deepest condolences to his bereaved family and the Japanese people. I hope that Korea and our closest neighbors Japan will work closely together going forward."
Yoon had a short conversation with Japanese Ambassador Koichi Aiboshi afterwards and told him, "I was very shocked by the news of the passing of former Prime Minister Abe," according to the presidential office.
Kang In-sun, the presidential spokesperson, said, "We hope that this could serve as an opportunity to reaffirm that Korea and Japan are close neighbors that share common values and norms" and "as a new starting point for Korea-Japan relations."
The two countries' bilateral relations have frayed over historical disputes stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule over Korea.
Yoon, National Assembly speaker Kim Jin-pyo and Prime Minister Han Duck-soo sent flower arrangements to Abe's memorial altar.
Last Friday, Yoon sent a condolence message to Abe's widow, hours after the former prime minister died from injuries sustained from a shooting while delivering a campaign speech in Nara ahead of upper house elections. The election Sunday led to a somber victory for Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner.
Yoon plans to send a special delegation including Prime Minister Han and PPP deputy speaker Chung Jin-suk to Tokyo to attend Abe's official memorial service. The date has yet to be announced.
Earlier Tuesday, the chiefs of Yoon's People Power Party (PPP) and the liberal Democratic Party (DP) also visited the memorial altar.
Kweon Seong-dong, the PPP floor leader and acting chairman, said to reporters that Abe, as Japan's longest prime minister, "was loved and trusted by Japanese people."
Woo Sang-ho, chief of the DP, said to reporters after paying his respects at the altar, "Despite his political views differing from that of the DP, I came to offer condolences over the tragic incident."
A string of Korean business leaders including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won also paid respects at the altar Tuesday.
Lee earned an MBA from Keio University in Japan and has personally built relations with the Japanese business community over the years.
Others in the business community visited the altar the previous day including Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, who is head of the Korea Enterprises Federation, and LS Group chairman Koo Ja-yeol, who is head of the Korea International Trade Association.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]