Japan between contemplation and protest at the national funeral of Shinzo Abe

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Japan between contemplation and protest at the national funeral of Shinzo Abe

Many dignitaries paid tribute to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Scores of Japanese and foreign dignitaries paid their respects to slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday in a state funeral that divided the country, with thousands of citizens coming to pay their respects while others demonstrated against the ;event.

The ceremony opened with the arrival of Akie Abe, widow of the former ruler, dressed in a black kimono and carrying the urn containing the ashes of her husband at the Nippon Budokan, the funeral site, where she was greeted by incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

In his eulogy, Mr. Kishida described Mr. Abe as a person of courage, listing his accomplishments including strengthening Japan's diplomatic ties with other countries.

I feel heartbreaking grief, he said. he said, facing a portrait of the deceased surmounting an imposing floral composition where his ashes were placed, behind the Japanese flag and an alignment of medals.

As of Tuesday morning, thousands of ordinary Japanese had flocked to the Budokan, a mecca for martial arts competitions, concerts and official ceremonies in the heart of the capital, to lay wreaths flowers and a brief memorial to the former leader.

I wanted to thank him. He did so much for Japan and the way he died was so shocking, Koji Takamori, a 46-year-old entrepreneur from the northern island of Hokkaido, told AFP. her 9-year-old son.

But to be honest, I also came because there was so much opposition to this state funeral. -he added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a tribute to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Japanese Embassy, ​​Tuesday, July 12, 2022 in Ottawa.

L&# x27;event was indeed far from a moment of sacred union, having sparked intense controversy and protests.

Mr. Abe broke Japan's longevity record for a serving prime minister: more than eight and a half years in 2006-2007 and 2012-2020.

He was Japan's best-known political figure both at home and abroad, with his intense diplomatic activity and massive fiscal and monetary stimulus dubbed Abenomics.

His assassination by bullets in the middle of an election rally on July 8, at the age of 67, shocked Japan and the whole world.

But Mr. Abe was also hated by many for his libertarian and nationalist views, his desire to revise Japan's pacifist Constitution and his links to numerous political and financial scandals. He was also hated by many for his nationalist rhetoric as well as numerous patronage cases involving those around him.

The motive of his alleged killer – Mr Abe's alleged ties to the Unification Church, dubbed the Moon Sect, which is accused of exerting heavy financial pressure on its members – still has a little more to it. tarnished the image of the former prime minister, according to his detractors.

Since his death, revelations have rained on the extent of the links between this Church and Japanese parliamentarians, especially from the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, right in power), formerly led by Mr. Abe and now by the current Prime Minister Kishida, whose popularity rating has dwindled since this summer.

Mr Kishida's swift and unilateral decision to hold a state funeral has outraged the opposition who believe it should have been debated and approved in Parliament. Several opposition parties boycotted the ceremony.

Tributes of this type for politicians have been extremely rare in post-war Japan, with the only precedent going back to 1967.

The estimated cost of the ceremony – the equivalent of C$15.8 million – also angered. After the failures of Mr. Abe's close protection, the government did not skimp on security: 20,000 police were deployed for the occasion, according to local media.

Peaceful demonstrations against the event have sometimes brought together several thousand people in recent weeks and a new rally took place on Tuesday in front of Parliament.

A man also attempted to set himself on fire near the prime minister's office last week to protest the national tribute, according to local media.

According to the latest polls, about 60% of Japanese were opposed to this state funeral.

Some 4,300 people, including 700 foreign dignitaries, were present at this non-denominational ceremony of a hour and a half.

Several foreign dignitaries, including United States Vice President Kamala Harris, attended the state funeral of the former prime minister of Japan.

After the national anthem and a minute's silence, several eulogies were delivered, including by Mr. Kishida and Yoshihide Suga, Mr. Abe's former right-hand man who succeeded him as Prime Minister (2020-2021).

The Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, and his wife, Masako, were not present due to their status as politically neutral national symbols, but other members of the imperial household attended.

Foreign guests included US Vice-President Kamala Harris, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese and European Council President Charles Michel. France was represented by its former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

China, with which Japan has cold relations, sent a representative, but no member of its executive.

C& #x27;is the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne who represented Canada, replacing Justin Trudeau, who remained in the country due to the damage caused by the passage of Fiona in the Atlantic.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and other foreign and Japanese dignitaries were also present.

Recall that Mr. Abe was cremated in July after a private funeral at a Tokyo temple a few days after his assassination.

Tokyo was under Maximum security at state funerals, especially near Budokan Hall.

With information from The Associated Press

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