Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has paid tribute to Shinzo Abe after his assassination, saying the "low act of cruelty" would not overshadow the former Japanese prime minister's achievements.
Mr Abe died from injuries sustained in a shooting during a speech at a campaign event in the Japanese city of Nara ahead of this weekend's local elections.
Reports of his death were confirmed at around 7pm on Friday night Australian time.
"Japan has lost a true patriot and a true leader. And Australia has lost a true friend. The friendship that Mr Abe offered Australia was warm in sentiment and profound in consequence," Mr Albanese told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.
"Mr Abe was not destined to be prime minister in easy times. But even as the world shifted beneath our feet, Mr Abe faced all of the challenges with a strength of character and an unbending resolve.
"He did not flinch. He did not weaken. And that's a cruel paradox of the tragedy that unfolded yesterday, that someone of such courage with such strength of character could be taken away with an act of extreme cowardice.
"It's not the first time we've seen this grim equation play out and I fear that it might not be the last."
Mr Abe forged a reputation as a great friend of Australia during his two stints as Japan's prime minister, which ran from 2006 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2020.
Broadcaster NHK showed footage of Mr Abe making a speech outside a train station when two shots rang out, after which the view was briefly obscured and then security officials were seen tackling a man in a grey T-shirt and beige trousers.
Mr Albanese labelled the shooting an act of terrorism and an "attack on our democracy".
"We need to cherish that democracy and part of cherishing that democracy is allowing for that interaction that we have in this great country of Australia, whereby people in senior positions are able to walk down the street, attend events whether in a professional or in a personal capacity and and feel that they are safe from this sort of senseless violence, this crime, this act of terrorism," he said.
Mr Albanese said that while arrangements would not be discussed until after local elections in Japan, flags in Australia will fly at half-mast on the day of Mr Abe's funeral. The Sydney Opera House will also be lit on Sunday in recognition of Japan. Buildings in Melbourne and Adelaide will be lit in red and white on Saturday night.
Mr Albanese has also issued a joint statement with Quad leaders US president Joe Biden and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi saying they will redouble peace efforts.
"[Mr Abe] played a formative role in the founding of the Quad partnership, and worked tirelessly to advance a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific," it read.
"We will honour Prime Minister Abe's memory by redoubling our work towards a peaceful and prosperous region."
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