Japan’s government approves state funeral date for Abe, plan sparks protests

Japan’s government approves state funeral date for Abe, plan sparks protests

A mourner offers flowers next to a photo of late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election, on the day to mark a week after his assassination at the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo, Japan on July 15 . , 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

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

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

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

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“We made this decision, as previously stated, because of Abe’s record as the longest-serving prime minister, in which he exercised leadership qualities that were distinctive from others and carried a heavy responsibility in dealing with a number of serious domestic and international issues.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference on Friday.

The funeral will be paid for entirely from state funds that will likely be taken from the budget reserve, he said.

The last state funeral for an ex-prime minister paid for entirely by state funds was in 1967, with subsequent funerals paid for in part by the state and in part by the LDP.

The current plan has sparked growing unrest. Around 200 people gathered near the prime minister’s office in Tokyo to protest the decision, according to the Kyodo news agency, and on social media objections ranged from the use of taxpayer funds to complaints the government may be trying to make political capital out of Abe’s death and cement. his legacy.

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

Only 49% supported the idea of ​​a state funeral in a recent 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’ wrote: “(Prime Minister Fumio) Kishida always boasted that he listens to the people, so why doesn’t he now?”

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

“Given they’re doing almost nothing about the pandemic, how did they manage to settle this so quickly?” posted Twitter user ‘Heron’.

“Take the money you’re going to spend on 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: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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