14 July 2022

Obituary: Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Group of individuals sat at white table. There is a large green curtain behind.

We are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of His Excellency Mr Shinzo Abe, former Prime Minister of Japan. Mr Abe has been an inspirational leader who has made a real difference in promoting a vision of a peaceful and healthier world. He will be remembered for championing consistently Japan’s commitment to global health and in particular for his efforts to ensure the inclusion of universal health coverage in the Sustainable Development Goals.1 2 3 

Mr. Abe’s landmark speech on “The Path towards Universal Health Coverage: Promotion of equitable global health and human security in the post-2015 development era at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015” was a particularly important moment.The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by UN Member States, including universal health coverage as target 3.8, marked a turning point for all of those who believe in the health for all agenda, and of course for the hundreds of millions of people around the world, including many vulnerable groups and marginalized communities, who still do not have access to health care and have to choose between being healthy or becoming poor. This was also the beginning of a new journey for all of those engaged in establishing the International Health Partnership for UHC2030 in 2016 and committing to work together to accelerate progress towards UHC.

”A year ago, here at the United Nations, I mentioned the need to enhance cooperation among the international organizations, donor countries and other relevant stakeholders toward health systems strengthening in developing countries by bringing together respective expertise. This awareness has now bloomed as the “International Health Partnership for UHC2030” platform, and cooperation among various organizations such as the WHO and the Global Fund are being strengthened. Japan strongly supports this initiative.“ 5

Statement by His Excellency, Mr. Shinzo Abe Prime Minister of Japan

There are many of us in the UHC movement who feel hugely inspired by Mr Abe's legacy of championing health as a right for all and strengthening global solidarity. We will honour his work and continue to mobilise UHC advocates and champions around the world to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to quality and affordable health services without facing financial hardship. We look forward to continued close collaboration with our Japanese partners in the government, the parliament, civil society, academia and the private sector, particularly to secure ambitious outcomes from the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in September 2015, leveraging Japan’s leadership in holding the Presidency of the G7 in 2023.

On behalf of the many partners of UHC2030, we wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to His Excellency Mr. Shinzo Abe’s family and friends, government officials, particularly in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the people of Japan.

Co-Chairs of Steering Committee

  • Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron
  • Dr. Justin Koonin

With support from the members of the UHC Movement Political Advisory Panel

  • Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Chair of the Board, Kofi Annan Foundation
  • Ms. Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments
  • Prof. Keizo Takemi, Member of the House of Councillors, Japan
  • Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly
  • Dr. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Former European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
  • Ms. Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance
  • Prof. Ilona Kickbusch, Chair, International Advisory Board, Global Health Centre, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies Geneva


1Japan's strategy for global health diplomacy - why it matters:https://japan.kantei.go.jp/96_abe/statement/201309/17lancet_e.html

2Japan’s vision for a peaceful and healthier world (2015): https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2901172-1/fulltext

3G7 Ise-Shima Vision for Global Health (2016): https://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000160273.pdf

4Statement by His Excellency, Mr. Shinzo Abe Prime Minister of Japan (2015): https://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000160273.pdf

5Statement by His Excellency, Mr. Shinzo Abe Prime Minister of Japan (2016): https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000189687.pdf

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