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Factbox: International reaction to resignation of Japan's PM Abe

(Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the nation’s longest serving premier, said on Friday he is resigning due to health reasons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 28, 2020. Franck Robichon/Pool via REUTERS

Here is what some international leaders and businesspeople are saying about Abe:

U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

“I want to pay my highest respect to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ... a great friend of mine,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One. “I just feel very badly about it.”

Trump said Abe loved his country very much, adding that he planned to call the Japanese leader.

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN ZHAO LIJIAN

“In recent years, the relationship between China and Japan has returned to the right track and achieved new developments ... We express a positive assessment of the important efforts made by Prime Minister Abe to achieve these ends and at the same time wish him a speedy recovery.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON

“@AbeShinzo has achieved great things as PM of Japan - for his country and the world,” Johnson said on Twitter.

“Under his stewardship the UK-Japan relationship has gone from strength to strength in trade, defence and our cultural links. Thank you for all your years of service and I wish you good health.”

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

“I regret his resignation and wish him all the very best, Merkel told reporters. “We worked very well together.”

RUSSIA

The Kremlin regrets that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to step down, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, describing the working relations between Abe and President Vladimir Putin as “brilliant”.

TAIWAN PRESIDENT TSAI ING-WEN

“Prime Minister Abe was always friendly to Taiwan, whether on policy or the rights and interests of Taiwan’s people – he was extremely positive. We value his friendly feelings towards Taiwan and hope he is healthy.”

NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN

“Prime Minister Abe struck me as a person of great integrity. He has led by example and showed what hard work, passion, and care for others can achieve,” Ardern said in a statement.

“There is much Japan and New Zealand see eye to eye on. Our shared commitment to democracy and the rules-based international system makes Japan an important partner for New Zealand, especially in the Indo-Pacific region where we share common goals.”

SOUTH KOREA PRESIDENTIAL BLUE HOUSE SPOKESMAN KANG MIN-SEOK

“We regret the sudden resignation announcement of Prime Minister Abe, who has left many meaningful achievements as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, and has also especially played a large role for development in South Korea and Japan’s bilateral relations.

“We wish the prime minister a quick recovery. Our government will continue cooperation with the new prime minister and the new cabinet for improved ties with Japan.”

KWONG TAE-SHIN, VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERATION OF KOREAN INDUSTRIES, A SOUTH KOREAN BUSINESS LOBBY GROUP

“President Moon Jae-in and Abe do not have good personal relationship, which contributed to adverse bilateral ties. When a new leader takes office in Japan, he can give momentum to improving bilateral relations. The two countries acknowledge that unnecessary diplomatic and trade conflicts would not help each other at a time when COVID-19 further adds difficulty to trade and business activities globally.”

MARCUS SCHURMANN, CEO, GERMAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY IN JAPAN

“He did a lot of good with regards just to the fact that he was one of the key promoters for multilateralism and free trade and did a lot to move to Japan back onto the world stage. Japan recovered the visibility and recognition the third-largest economy in the world deserves.

“We have FTAs and he also tackled a lot of difficult problems. Just thinking about relations with China, relations also with Russia, and also the difficult relationship with the U.S. at least since Trump came into power.

“I do not want to say he failed, but at least what is an unsolved problem is the relationship was Korea. I think that’s the kind of problem which his successor has to work on.

“He succeeded in bringing the Olympics to Tokyo. I think this is also a major achievement we should not forget.”

Reporting by Reuters bureaus worldwide; Compiled by Kim Coghill; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard

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