SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A downtown Sioux Falls restaurant owner is serving his customers with a heavy heart. That’s because he’s grieving the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was gunned down by an assassin as he delivered a campaign speech.
“I’ve been lucky. I’ve been lucky,” Fumi Naoe said.
Restaurant owner Fumi Naoe got his first taste of South Dakota while attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 1999.
“People are so friendly and nice! I’ve never seen people like that,” Naoe said.
Naoe, who’s a native of northern Japan, later moved to Sioux Falls to open Sushi Masa, sensing a huge business opportunity here.
“I thought, you know, let’s give it a shot, I didn’t see any Japanese restaurants in both Dakotas, not only in Sioux Falls but both Dakotas, zero Japanese restaurants,” Naoe said.
But Naoe says opening up for business today was very difficult for him. His heart wasn’t in it because of what happened in his homeland.
“This is just horrible. Usually, I don’t care about politicians. But this person, yeah, I do,” Naoe said.
Naoe says Shinzo Abe was a great leader for Japan and the entire world.
“I can say he’s number-one in the history. For that country, he did the best,” Naoe said.
Naoe says the assassination is all the more shocking because of Japan’s strict gun laws.
“I mean here, everyone has guns. There, no one has guns,” Naoe said.
Naoe says it’s important to keep his restaurant open out of loyalty to his customers, in spite of the tragedy that has gripped his native land.
Naoe is concerned the assassination will throw Japan into a state of political chaos, with new elections set to take place there soon.