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Shinzo Abe’s state funeral divides Japan

Shinzo Abe's state funeral Associated Press/Photo by Franck Robichon, Pool Photo

Shinzo Abe’s state funeral divides Japan

Akie Abe on Tuesday walked down the center aisle of a funeral venue in Tokyo wearing a black kimono and carrying the ashes of her husband, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Just outside the venue, thousands of people queued for several blocks to lay flowers in a nearby park in Abe’s honor. Thousands more marched toward the funeral venue banging drums, shouting, and toting banners in protest. Political parties opposed to Abe’s conservative political coalition boycotted the ceremony, which critics have deemed a reminder of how, before World War II, governments used state funerals to fan nationalism.

Why is a state funeral such a big deal? Abe was the nation’s longest-serving prime minister, and prior to his July assassination, he promoted economic and national security policies that many believe elevated the international status of the country. But still, the funeral cost $12 million and state funerals in Japan have been an honor almost exclusively reserved for emperors. Only one other prime minister, Shigeru Yoshida, has received a state funeral since the end of WWII. Japanese newspaper Mainichi reported that 53 percent of Japanese residents opposed giving Shinzo Abe a funeral, while only 30 percent supported it. Many in Japan have criticized Abe’s—and his Liberal Democratic Party’s—connections to the Unification Church. Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida approved the funeral without any parliamentary debate or approval.

Dig deeper: Listen to my report on The World and Everything in It podcast about the death and legacy of Shinzo Abe.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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