The Japanese government approves the date of Abe’s state funeral, the plan sparks protests

The Japanese government approves the date of Abe's state funeral, the plan sparks protests
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A mourner offers flowers next to a picture of the late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead while campaigning for a general election the day 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 will hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on September 22. 27, amid street and social media protests that the state should not fund ceremonies for Japan’s longest-serving but divisive prime minister.

Abe, a two-term prime minister for more than eight years and a powerful influence in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) even after leaving office, was gunned down at a campaign rally two weeks ago, in an incident that shocked Japan. Continue reading

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

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“We made this decision, as we have said, because of Abe’s record as the longest-serving prime minister, in which he has demonstrated leadership qualities that are unlike any other and a great deal of responsibility for dealing with a number of serious national and international issues Had problems,” said Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Friday at a press conference.

The funeral will be paid for entirely from government funds, which are expected to be taken from the budget reserve, he said.

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

The current plan triggers 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 objections on social media have ranged from the use of taxpayer money to complaints that the government may be trying to to capitalize politically on Abe’s death and cement his legacy.

On Thursday, 50 people applied to a Tokyo court for an injunction to stop using public funds for the event, saying there should have been more discussion before a decision was made.

Just 49% backed the idea of ​​a state funeral in a recent public opinion poll by public broadcaster NHK, and the issue was trending on social media on Friday.

Taking to Twitter, a user by the name “Yuki no Imogai” posted: “(Prime Minister Fumio) Kishida has always bragged about listening to people, so why not do it 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. Continue reading

“Given that they are doing next to nothing about the pandemic, how did they manage to make this decision so quickly?” wrote Twitter user Heron.

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

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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