Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s State Funeral Causes Trouble in Japan

The state funeral ceremony in Japan is not like a traditional funeral rite, but rather a solemn

The state funeral ceremony in Japan is not like a traditional funeral rite, but rather a solemn “commemoration” at the state level.

A photo: REUTERS

In Japan, today is a state funeral for former head of government Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July this year. As writes “BBC”despite the fact that the politician was considered a fairly popular prime minister, many residents of the Land of the Rising Sun oppose arranging magnificent processions in his honor.

The state funeral ceremony in Japan is not like a traditional funeral rite, but rather a solemn “commemoration” at the state level. Although Abe’s ashes were interred in July, local political leaders and foreign guests are now expressing their condolences under a special protocol. Such a ceremony is reserved only for members of the imperial family and prominent statesmen, therefore, since the end of World War II, state funerals have taken place only once – in 1967, when the head of government Shigeru Yoshida, who is considered one of the authors of the “Japanese economic miracle”, died.

Many foreign leaders attended the state funeral, including the President of Vietnam, the Prime Ministers of Australia, India, Cambodia and Singapore, and the Vice President of the United States. Russia is represented by the president’s special envoy for international cultural cooperation, Mikhail Shvydkoi, and the Russian ambassador to Japan, Mikhail Galuzin. In total, about 6,000 people were invited to the ceremony, but 4,300 guests confirmed their participation.

However, in Japan itself, the attitude towards the state funeral of Abe is ambiguous, many do not agree that $ 11.5 million will have to be allocated from the budget to organize such a pompous procedure. As writes “Washington Post”Abe himself was more popular abroad than in his native country, where his activities are assessed very ambiguously, although the politician set a record for the time spent in the prime minister’s chair.

This is superimposed by the scandal with the Korean religious structure “Unification Church”, considered by many as a real sect, in which elements from Christianity, occultism and Eastern teachings are mixed. Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan were closely associated with the Unification Church, and the organization itself used contacts in the country’s leadership to actively conduct its activities, including raising funds from parishioners. Abe’s killer, former serviceman Tetsuya Yamagami, named as one of the motives for his crime the desire to take revenge on the ex-premier for supporting the “Church”, because the Yamagami family was destroyed due to the fact that his mother donated all her money to this particular religious structure.

As a result of all these scandals, according to the latest public opinion polls, more than half of the inhabitants of the Land of the Rising Sun oppose solemn funerals. Yesterday, about 10,000 people staged a demonstration in Tokyo to protest against the ceremony, and a week earlier, one of Abe’s opponents committed self-immolation in front of the government building.

Shinzo Abe was killed by gunfire on July 8. The politician was shot several times while speaking in the city of Nara. The perpetrator was arrested it turned out to be former member of the Japan Self-Defense Forces Tetsuya Yamagami.

Shinzo Abe was born on September 21, 1954 in Nagato, Japan. He began his political career in 1982, becoming the secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shintaro Abe, his father. Twice he was the Prime Minister of Japan: in 2006-2007 and 2012-2020.

During his first term, he got into scandals due to nationalist statements. In 2007, Abe’s popularity plummeted when Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide following a corruption scandal, and his successor was also found guilty of corruption.

Abe’s second term was remembered for legislative changes that strengthen Japan’s defense capability. In 2018, the rating of the politician fell sharply. This was caused by a scandal involving the falsification of documents in a deal to acquire state land at a reduced cost by the Moritomo Gakuen organization, in which Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie were allegedly involved.

The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the rating of Abe and the Japanese government. Citizens were criticized for the belated introduction of restrictive measures. In August 2020, Shinzo Abe announced his retirement for health reasons.

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