Former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe honored in divisive state funeral

TOKYO (AP) — JapanThe assassinated former hawkish leader Shinzo Abe held a rare state funeral on Tuesday, filled with military pomp, surrounded by large mourners and widespread protests, with thousands taking to the streets to protest.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio Saying a publicly funded ceremony is a well-deserved honor JapanThe longest-serving modern political leader, but deeply divided public opinion.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, Japanese Crown Prince Akishino and other Chinese and foreign dignitaries attended the event.

The first is Abe’s widow Abe Akie, dressed in a black formal kimono, walking slowly behind personally Entering the funeral home, he carried a urn in a wooden box with gold bars wrapped in purple cloth. Soldiers in white uniforms picked up Abe’s ashes and placed them on a pedestal filled with white and yellow chrysanthemums and ornaments.

As the military band played the King’s anthem, the waiters stood, followed by a moment of silence, before showing a video praising Abe’s political career.These included his 2006 parliamentary speech vowing to build a “beautiful Japan,” he visited the stricken north Japan After the March 2011 tsunami and his 2016 posing as Super Mario in Rio de Janeiro to promote the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

personallyIn a 12-minute eulogy, he praised Abe as a statesman with a clear vision for post-World War II economic growth who promoted national security, Japan and the world, and a “free and open Indo-Pacific” to counter China’s rise.

“You’re someone who deserves to live longer,” personally say he Looking up at the giant photo of Abe. “I firmly believe that you will contribute as a compass for the future direction. Japan and the rest of the world for 10 or 20 years or more. “

personally Abe will be remembered not only as the country’s longest-serving leader, but also for what he has accomplished and his commitment to continue Abe’s policies Japan and region.

During the ceremony, Harris sat in the third row next to U.S. Ambassador to the United States Rahm Emanuel. Japanwho later joined others in placing a sprig of chrysanthemum on a table near Abe’s photo.

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

Tokyo is on high alert for the state funeral, especially around the venue Budokan.

At a protest in central Tokyo, thousands marched down the hall, some beating drums and many chanting or holding banners and placards in disapproval.

“Abe did not do one thing for ordinary people,” said participant Kaoru Mano.

JapanThe main political opposition party boycotted the funeral, which critics said was a reminder of how pre-war imperialist governments used state funerals to incite nationalism.

The government insisted the ceremony was not intended to force anyone to pay tribute to Abe. But the decision to grant him the rare honour was made without parliamentary debate or approval, and the high cost and other controversies sparked outrage over the event.

personally The latter has also come under fire amid growing controversy over decades of close ties between Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church, which has been accused of brainwashing followers to raise huge donations. The suspect in Abe’s assassination reportedly told police he killed Abe because of his ties to the church, which he said took large sums of money from his mother, bankrupted his family and ruined his life.

Jiro Yamaguchi, a professor of political science at Hosei University, wrote in a recent article: “The fact that the close ties between the LDP and the Unification Church may have interfered with the policy-making process is seen by the Japanese people as a bigger threat to democracy than Abe’s assassination. .”

Abe’s grandfather, former prime minister Nobuyuki Kishi, helps South Korean churches take root Japan Now seen as a key figure in the scandal. Opponents say holding a state funeral for Abe is tantamount to acknowledging the relationship between the ruling party and the church.

“A big problem is that there is no proper approval process,” retiree Shin Watanabe said during Tuesday’s demonstration. “I’m sure there are different views. But I think it’s inexcusable that they would force us to have a state funeral when so many of us are against it.”

Outside the Budokan, thousands of people lined up for several blocks with bouquets to lay flowers in a nearby park.

“I had a soft spot for him, and I’ve always supported the LDP,” recalls Masaaki Aoki, a 70-year-old business owner who shared a fistfight with Abe during his Yokohama-era campaign. before he was assassinated. “I’m here to give him flowers.”

Some see this as further justification for Abe’s honor, personally Meeting with visiting foreign leaders this week he Called “Funeral Diplomacy”.Talks aim to strengthen ties Japan Facing regional and global challenges, including threats from China, Russia and North Korea.

he About 40 foreign leaders will meet before Wednesday, but no G7 leaders will be present.

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Associated Press reporters Chisato Tanaka, Yuri Kageyama and Chris Megerian contributed to this report.

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