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The death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is a "great loss" for the entire world, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday, expressing his "deep sorrow".
"The death of the queen, who led Britain through turbulent times in the world, is a great loss not only for the British people but also the international community," he told reporters.
Kishida praised the queen's "extremely important role in world peace and stability", saying she "contributed greatly to the strengthening of Japan-UK relations".
He offered the government's condolences, and said news of her death had left him "feeling deep sorrow".
Flags in Japan will be flown at half-mast in respect for the late monarch, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.
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Noboru Suzuki, 81, was among those who went to pay condolences outside the British embassy in Tokyo, where some people left flowers at the gate.
"The British royal family is one of the best known, so I'm sure the whole world is engulfed by sadness, but because Japan has its own imperial family, we're in shock, too," he told AFP.
Another mourner, 54-year-old Yasuko Osawa, said she had studied in Britain twice, her trips coinciding with the heyday of princess Diana's popularity.
"So my path crossed with the British royal family, even just a little," she said.
Osawa said her generation in Japan had embraced British music, and "everyone around me was going to the UK to study".
"British royals have had their share of scandals, but I sincerely hope they are able to overcome this loss," she said, adding that the queen was "someone truly deserving of a state funeral".
Japan will hold a state funeral for assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe later this month, an event that has caused controversy partly over its $12 million price tag.
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