Tuesday Nov 29, 2022
Tuesday Nov 29, 2022

Japan holds funeral for assassinated ex-leader Abe


Nepalnews
2022 Sep 27, 11:34, TOKYO
People leave flowers and pay their respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outside the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, ahead of his state funeral later in the day. (via AP)

A rare and controversial state funeral for assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began Tuesday in tense Japan where the event for one of the country’s most divisive leaders has deeply split public opinion.

Abe’s widow, Akie Abe, in a black formal kimono, walked slowly into the Budokan hall venue carrying an urn containing her husband’s ashes, placed in a wooden box and wrapped in a purple cloth with gold stripes. Defense soldiers in white uniforms took Abe’s ashes and placed them on a pedestal filled with white and yellow chrysanthemum flowers and decorations.

Government, parliamentary and judicial representatives, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, will make condolence speeches, followed by Akie Abe.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, among dozens of foreign dignitaries and 4.300 attendees, sat in the third row, next to Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Abe was cremated in July after a private funeral at a Tokyo temple days after he was assassinated while giving a campaign speech on a street in Nara, a city in western Japan.

People make a long line to lay flowers and pay respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the stands set up outside the venue for his state funeral in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (via AP)
People make a long line to lay flowers and pay respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the stands set up outside the venue for his state funeral in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (via AP)

Tokyo was under maximum security, with angry protests opposing the funeral planned. Hours before the ceremony, hundreds of people carrying bouquets of flowers queued at public flower-laying stands at nearby Kudanzaka park. Their line stretched several blocks.

The government maintains that the ceremony is not meant to force anyone to honor Abe. Japan’s main political opposition parties are not attending the event, which critics say is a reminder of how prewar imperialist governments used state funerals to fan nationalism.

Kishida has been criticized for forcing through the costly event and over the widening controversy about Abe’s and the governing party’s decades of close ties with the ultra-conservative Unification Church, accused of raking in huge donations by brainwashing adherents. Abe’s alleged assassin reportedly told police he killed the politician because of his links to the church; he said his mother ruined his life by giving away the family’s money to the church.

Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped the church take root in Japan and is now seen as a key figure in the scandal. Opponents say holding a state funeral for Abe is equivalent to an endorsement of ruling party ties to the Unification Church.

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Japan funeral Shinzo Abe Unification Church Fumio Kishida
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