Japanese govt approves state funeral date for Abe, plan sparks protests

A mourner offers flowers next to a photo of the late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot while campaigning for parliamentary elections, on the day marking 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 on September 27, amid street and social media protests that the state should not fund ceremonies for Japan’s oldest. , but which divides, prime minister.

Abe, prime minister for more than eight years across two terms and hugely influential in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) even after leaving office, was shot dead two weeks ago during a campaign rally, an incident which deeply shocked Japan. Read more

His funeral took place shortly after, but the cabinet decided on Friday that a state funeral would be held on September 27 at the Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo.

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“We made this decision, as has been said before, because of Abe’s record as the longest-serving Prime Minister, during which he exercised leadership skills distinct from others and carried the heavy responsibility of address a number of serious domestic and international issues,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Friday.

The funeral will be entirely paid for by public funds likely to be taken from the budgetary reserve, he said.

The last fully state-funded state funeral for a former prime minister was in 1967, with successive funerals paid for partly by the state and partly by the LDP.

The current plan has caused growing concern. About 200 people gathered near the prime minister’s office in Tokyo to protest the decision, according to the Kyodo news agency, and over social media objections ranging from the use of taxpayer funds to complaints that the government could seek to make political capital out of Abe’s death and cement. his legacy.

On Thursday, 50 people filed for an injunction with a Tokyo court seeking an end to the use of public funds for the event, saying there should have been more discussion before making a decision .

Only 49% backed the idea of ​​a state funeral in a recent public opinion poll by public broadcaster NHK, 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 has always prided himself on listening to people, so why isn’t he now?

Others have pitted the plan against the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with new cases reaching record highs in Japan this week. Read more

“Given they are doing next to nothing about the pandemic, how did they manage to decide so quickly?” posted Twitter user “Heron”.

“Take the money you will use for the funeral and do something about the coronavirus.”

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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