Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan delivered a eulogy for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon.
"They were serious battles with sparks flying. The opponent I should challenge to a rematch will no longer come to this chamber," Noda said, recalling party leadership debates with Abe during Noda's time as prime minister.
During a memorable exchange during a Diet debate in November 2012, Noda told Abe -- who was then president of the Liberal Democratic Party -- that he would dissolve the lower house. At the time, Noda belonged to the Democratic Party of Japan.
The DPJ went on to lose the snap general election and relinquish power.
"[Abe] was always a formidable foe. For me, he was more like a nemesis than a political opponent," Noda said.
But despite being a "fighting politician" in the Diet, Noda said Abe was "a kind, caring person" once he left it.
Noda also described attending an Imperial investiture, shortly after he lost power, at which the Emperor appointed Abe as prime minister. Abe thanked Noda and told him: "I got back in five years. This day will come for you, too."
Noda's remarks constituted the ninth Diet eulogy for a former prime minister since the end of World War II, and the first since former Social Democratic Party leader Tomiichi Murayama spoke at a 2000 memorial for former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.
It is customary for an opposition leader to deliver the eulogy.
Abe was fatally shot while campaigning for the House of Councillors election in July.
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