Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his condolences over the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Monday, saying she was “a great statesperson” who devoted herself to her state and her people.
“We share the deep sorrow of the British people,” Abe said in a written statement.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko also expressed his condolence, adding that Abe had great respect for the “Iron Lady.”
“From the bottom of our hearts we pray that her soul may rest in peace,” Seko said during a news conference on Monday evening.
According to Seko, Abe has identified with her because she was a conservative politician who pulled her country out of a longtime economic slump.
On Feb. 28, Abe used a quote from Thatcher’s memoirs in delivering a key policy speech at the Diet.
“These are the words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as she looked back on the Falklands War,” Abe said in the speech as he referred to the “ongoing provocations against our territory,” apparently talking about the territorial row over the Senkaku Islands.
” ‘The rule of law at sea.’ I would like to appeal to the international community that in modern times, changes to the status quo through the use of coercion or intimidation will not legitimize anything,” Abe said in the speech.
Abe also intently watched “The Iron Lady,” a movie about Thatcher, Seko told reporters.
“Now Prime Minister Abe has lost chances to directly listen to her for good. It’s really regrettable,” Seko said.