Crisis-hit Sri Lanka on July 12 announced a day of national mourning as a mark of respect for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one of his nation’s most powerful and influential figures, who was assassinated on July 8.
Abe, 67, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan, was assassinated in the west Japanese town of Nara while he was campaigning for his party. He was airlifted to a hospital for emergency treatment but was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was later pronounced dead despite emergency treatment.
“The national flag will fly at half-mast on state buildings while the day remains a fully working day with no holiday,” said Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration H. K. Mayadunnathe.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on July 12 signed the condolence book for Abe at the Japanese embassy.
Earlier on Friday, the Japanese embassy in Colombo said in an update that a “Book of Condolence will remain open for signing at the Embassy of Japan on Monday and Tuesday”.
Japan, as one of the top donors, has made significant contributions to the development of Sri Lanka, based on a long-term perspective. Japan’s cordial relationship with Sri Lanka dates back to 1952.
Since then, Japan has been a long-time partner in Sri Lanka’s socio-economic development as well as in the process of peace enhancement and reconciliation. As of the end of December 2010, the Government of Japan has provided around Rs. 1,400 billion [Sri Lankan Rupee] as assistance to Sri Lanka under its various funding schemes that have benefitted people in all parts of the country including those in conflict affected areas.
In addition, Japan provides support through UN Agencies, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and local, Japanese, and international NGOs, according to embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly $7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about $25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at $51 billion.