Controversial state funeral for Abe
Following Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, delegations are expected to be in Tokyo on 27 September for a final farewell to Japan’s former prime minister who was killed in July. However, polls indicate that more than 60 per cent of the Japanese population is now opposed to solemn celebrations. The country’s main opposition party has also announced that it will not attend.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Less than ten days after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, which was broadcast and followed worldwide, another major funeral is coming up.
Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be laid to rest next week, on 27 September, in Tokyo.
Abe, who was killed in an attack two months ago, is set to receive a state funeral, the second time in post-war Japan that a former prime minister is granted this privilege.
However, the ambiance around the Nippon Budokan arena is likely to be very different from what was seen yesterday at Westminster Abbey
Over the past few weeks, the decision to grant Abe such an honour has been at the centre of a growing controversy that has divided public opinion, drawing multiple criticisms from both civil society groups and opposition parties.
Opposition to the state funeral is growing. In July, when the decision was made to hold such a ceremony, 43 per cent of the population were in favour of a state funeral for the former prime minister; at present, support has dropped to 33 per cent while opposition has almost doubled to 60 per cent.
Some are against Abe because of his attempts to amend the country's pacifist constitution, while others felt that his involvement in corruption scandals did not make him worthy of a state funeral.
Some expressed doubts about the cost of the funeral at a time of economic hardships, with others slamming the decision to organise the funeral for the simple reason that most Japanese are against it.
In early September, 400,000 people signed a petition against the state funeral, which was sent to the Cabinet Office.
Some Japanese see the decision to hold the state funeral as undue pressure to show grief for a leader who polarised the country, not to mention the fact that many believe it goes beyond the powers of the government and so it is illegal.
The whole affair is having a major political impact. Although the incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tried to explain the reasons for the funeral in parliament and to his fellow citizens, polls indicate that more Japanese disapprove of his work than approve.
In this context, the main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, announced that none of its members would attend the funeral.
This attitude is not shared by all opposition parties though since some have stated that they would take part in Abe’s funeral.