In Tokyo, the funeral of Shinzo Abe in private form, in the thousands for the latest tribute

In Tokyo, the funeral of Shinzo Abe in private form, in the thousands for the latest tribute

The actual funeral is held privately, in the presence of his wife Akie and other close relatives of the deceased at the Zojoj temple

Scene outside Tokyo temple where Abe’s funeral is being held | AFP

The funeral of Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated last Friday, began today in Tokyo, at the Zojoji Buddhist temple, where a wake was held overnight in which thousands of people took part.

Abe, 67, was killed by a home-made rifle while giving an election speech in the city of Nara, two days before the elections for the renewal of the upper house of parliament, in which his party cemented his power last Sunday.

Crime suspects, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, arrested soon after the crime, confessed to police that he attacked him because he believed Abe was linked to a religious organization that would harm his family. Satoshi Ninoyu, president of the National Public Security Commission, has promised an in-depth analysis of possible security breaches, admitted by the local police themselves.

The actual funeral is held privately, in the presence of his wife Akie and other close relatives of the deceased. Prime Minister Kishida, the general secretary of the Liberal Democratic Party Toshimitsu Motegi and the leaders of the internal faction of the party that referred to Abe are also admitted.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, the Imperial Household Agency reported, sent flowers and a chamberlain to burn incense at Zojoji Temple. The imperial couple, according to the Imperial Household Agency, feel deeply sorry for Abe’s death and worried about the deceased’s family.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit to Tokyo to pay tribute to Abe, calling him “a man of vision”. According to the local press, Taiwanese vice president William Lai also paid a surprise visit to Tokyo. His presence could irritate Beijing, even though the foreign minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, has assured that the Taiwanese leader has arrived in a personal capacity.

After the private ceremony, the body will be loaded onto a car that will drive through the streets of Tokyo, passing the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party, the residence of the Prime Minister (Kantei) and the Diet (the Japanese parliament), which are have been the stage for Abe’s political activity for decades.

The former prime minister was today awarded, post mortem, the Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the highest Japanese honor, which until now had only been given to three other former prime ministers: Shigeru Yoshida, Eisaku Sato and Yasuhiro Nakasone.

In addition, Abe was also assigned the Lower First Court rank, i.e. a rank of nobility. Abe as prime minister handled the abdication of Emperor Akihito in favor of Naruhito in 2019. The Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum is made of pure gold and is granted by the emperor. It has also been assigned to several foreign heads of state who have visited the country in the past.

In addition to the funeral in Tokyo, there will be other memorial ceremonies also in the capital and in the prefecture of Yamaguchi, in western Japan, where Abe had his electoral base. Former US President Donald Trump would also have asked to take part in the funeral. In any case, the former White House tenant himself reminded the conservative site Breitbart yesterday that Abe was the first foreign leader to meet him as president and said he was discussing with the former premier’s family about the possible visit.

The Japanese government announced today that the flags of the Rising Sun will be placed at half-mast at the Kantei, the prime minister’s residence.

A vehicle carrying the body of the late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election, leaves after his funeral at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan July 12, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato