Japan’s Cabinet holds state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid mixed public backdrop
TOKYO — Japan’s cabinet formally decided on Friday to hold a September 27 state funeral for slain former prime minister Shinzo Abe amid a nationwide debate over the plan, which some criticize as an attempt to glorify a personality divisive politics.
Abe was shot dead earlier this month during a campaign speech in the western city of Nara, shocking a nation known for its security and strict gun control. The suspected shooter was arrested immediately after the shooting and is being held for questioning as authorities seek to file a formal murder charge.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said a state funeral was appropriate because of Abe’s ‘distinguished contributions’ as Japan’s longest-serving leader and his ‘outstanding leadership and decisive actions’ in broad areas, including economic recovery, promoting Japan-centered diplomacy. American alliance and reconstruction following the 2011 tsunami disaster.
Matsuno said the funeral will be a non-religious ceremony to be held at the Nippon Budokan, an arena originally built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that has since become a popular venue for sports, concerts and cultural events. . The government also holds an annual memorial service on August 15 marking Japan’s defeat in World War II in the arena.
Foreign dignitaries will be invited to Abe’s state funeral, Matsuno said, although further details, including the estimated cost and number of attendees, are yet to be determined.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans for a state funeral last week which some see as a way to stabilize his grip on power by pleasing the ultra-conservatives who backed Abe, who led the biggest wing in the country. left.
PHOTOS: Japanese cabinet holds Abe’s state funeral to mixed audience
The plan received a mixed reaction from opposition leaders and the public. Some oppose the use of tax money on the event, while others criticize Kishida’s ruling party for politicizing Abe’s death to glorify him and try to shut down debate over his highly controversial legacy, including his hawkish diplomatic and security policies and his revisionist stance on the history of warfare.
On Thursday, a civil group opposed to plans for Abe’s state funeral submitted an application for an injunction asking the Tokyo District Court to suspend the Cabinet’s decision and the event’s budget, saying a funeral sponsored by the state without parliamentary approval violates the constitutional right to freedom of belief.
Dozens of protesters stood outside the prime minister’s office on Friday to oppose the Cabinet decision. An opposition leader, Mizuho Fukushima, said the decision was not based on public consensus, had no legal basis and should be dropped.
Abe’s private funeral has already taken place at a temple in Tokyo and was attended by around 1,000 mourners, including lawmakers, business leaders and others.
Abe’s assassination has shed light on his and his party’s decades-long dubious ties to the Unification Church.
The suspected killer, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, told police he killed Abe because of his ties to a religious group he hated. His reported accounts and other evidence suggest he was upset because his mother’s massive donations to the church had bankrupted the family.
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