Japan’s government approves date for slain former prime minister Abe’s state funeral, plans spark protests

Japan's government approves date for slain former prime minister Abe's state funeral, plans spark protests
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A mourner places flowers next to a photo of shot dead former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a parliamentary election campaign a week after his assassination at the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, Japan July 15, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

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TOKYO, July 22 (Reuters) – Japan’s government said on Friday it would hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September. 27, amid protests on the streets and on social media that the state should not fund the event for Japan’s longest-serving, but divisive, premier.

Abe, prime minister after more than eight years in two terms and still hugely influential in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was gunned down at a campaign rally two weeks ago, in an incident that deeply shocked Japan. Read more

His funeral was held soon after, but the cabinet decided on Friday that the state funeral will be held in September. 27 at the Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo.

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“We have taken this decision, as stated earlier, because of Abe’s record as the longest-serving prime minister, during which he has exercised leadership skills unique to others and shouldered heavy responsibility for addressing a number of critical domestic and international issues.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno gave this information at a press conference on Friday.

The funeral will be paid for entirely by state funds, possibly from budget reserves, he said.

The last state funeral of a former prime minister was paid for entirely by state funds in 1967, with successive funerals paid for partly by the state and partly by the LDP.

The current plan has created growing unrest. About 200 people gathered outside the prime minister’s office in Tokyo to protest the decision, according to Kyodo news agency, and social media outcry over everything from the use of taxpayer funds to accusations that the government may be trying to make political capital out of Abe’s death. his legacy.

On Thursday, 50 people filed in a Tokyo court for an injunction to stop the use of government funds for the event, saying more deliberations should have been made before a decision was made.

A recent opinion poll by public broadcaster NHK showed only 49% supported the idea of ​​a state funeral, and the topic was trending on social media on Friday.

On Twitter, a user with the handle ‘Yuki no Imogai’ posted, “(Prime Minister Fumio) Kishida always bragged that he listens to people, so why isn’t he doing it now?”

Others contrasted the plan with the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with record levels of new cases emerging in Japan this week. Read more

“Since they are doing nothing about the pandemic, how could they make such a quick decision?”, Twitter user ‘Heron’ posted.

“Take the money you would use for funerals and do something about the coronavirus.”

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Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto and Elaine Lies; Written by Chang-Ran Kim and Elaine Lais; Edited by Kenneth Maxwell

Our values: Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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