Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of Japan, was shot dead in Nara while campaigning for the upcoming election. A suspect identified as Tetsuya Yamagami has been arrested after the homemade gun that was found in his possession.
Abe, who was the longest-serving prime minister of the nation, played a key role in bringing the Olympics game to Tokyo for the first time since 1964. Abe personally visited the voters to reassure them about the safety of the host city, after many raised concerns about the health issues due to a radioactive leak in the Fukushima power plant.
“I ask you read through the headlines and appraise the true situation,” he said. “There have been no health-related problems, nor will there be in the future. I shall take responsibility,” said Abe to the delegation.
Tokyo saw off stiff challenges from Istanbul and Madrid before winning the bid by a comprehensive margin. Istanbul’s stocks dropped because of the ongoing protest in the nation, while Madrid’s broken economy virtually ruled them out, even though more than 80% of the venues for the competitions were already in place.
Once Abe reassured the voters about the safety of the athletes from the radioactive leak, the balance disproportionately tilted in Japan’s favour. Abe had also added that hosting the game would have provide a major economic boost to his nation, and would allow them to repay the massive debt they were under in the wake of a horrific natural disaster.
During the closing ceremony of the Olympics event, the baton is passed from the current hosts to the future hosts. In Rio 2016, Abe shocked the entire world by cosplaying as Super Mario to take the baton. It was a unique way of promoting Japanese culture at a global event, that not many would have agreed to do.
As much as we loved the scene, Abe didn’t like the idea. However, he had no choice but to accept it once his political guru and the head of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, Yoshiro Mori, approached him to cosplay as Mario. When Mori was the prime minister, Abe served as his deputy chief cabinet secretary.
“To be honest, when [Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee head Yoshiro] Mori first came to me with the idea [of appearing at the closing ceremony dressed as Super Mario], I didn’t like it [laughs]. ‘Is it really OK for a prime minister to dress up like Mario?’ I asked. As much as possible, I wanted to avoid any politicizing of the Olympics, and it’s a 20-hour flight to Rio,” Abe had said to JapanTimes.
Eventually, Abe was happy with how everything went at the closing ceremony. His popularity among children grew soon after his Mario appearance in Rio.
“I was worried that dressing up like Mario would lead to people cracking jokes about me again,” he added. “But the plan was well made and well done. When I appeared in the stadium, the applause was tremendous, and after that at international conferences world leaders would tell me ‘I saw you dressed as Mario!'”
Featured Image Credit: Reuters