Vowing to carry on Abe’s diplomatic legacy, Kishida wraps up ‘funeral diplomacy’

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the State Guest House in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida concluded his so-called funeral diplomacy on Wednesday, having held 38 meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Over a three-day period, Kishida spoke with foreign dignitaries including the heads of state and government from various nations and regions. He pledged to carry on Abe’s diplomatic legacy, including the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region that the late prime minister advocated.

Kishida met with foreign dignitaries from 20 countries and regions one after another on Wednesday at the State Guest House in Tokyo, among them South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. He and Han agreed to accelerate communication between diplomatic officials to restore and further develop the relationship between their two countries.

They also affirmed the importance of moving forward with bilateral cooperation, as well as trilateral cooperation between Japan, the United States and South Korea, to respond to North Korea and other regional matters.

When meeting with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Kishida stated Tokyo’s intention to strengthen bilateral relations to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific. Located at a strategic point in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has fallen into an economic crisis due to its massive debt to China.

Abe actively engaged in diplomacy as prime minister, visiting 80 countries and regions. Reflecting his diplomatic achievements, Kishida met with a diverse group of world leaders. In addition to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese — the countries that together with Japan comprise the Quad security framework proposed by Abe — the list also included leaders from Middle Eastern, African and Pacific countries.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno stressed the significance of the funeral diplomacy at a press conference on Wednesday. Referring to issues such as security in the Indo-Pacific region, the situation in Ukraine and strengthening the functions of the United Nations, Matsuno said Kishida “was able to have useful exchanges of views on a broad range of topics.”

Matsuno said 734 people from 217 countries, regions, international organizations and other entities attended the state funeral. The government had previously cited a figure of 218, but Somalia was absent.