Shinzo Abe: Hundreds protest the state funeral of the former Japanese prime minister

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Several hundred protesters in Tokyo are calling for the cancellation of the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He was the head of state with the longest tenure fatally shot in an outdoor action July in the city of Nara.

Protesters have branded Abe’s policies as war, pointing to his consistent efforts to increase defense spending and his close ties to the controversial Unification Church, which critics call a cult.

A state funeral will take place next Tuesday, but protesters are calling for it to be cancelled.

Yoshiko Kamata, a part-time worker at a convenience store, said the protest was a good opportunity to send a message that Mr. Abe never stood by ordinary people.

She said, “Just because he’s dead, we won’t forgive Abe.”

Protests and marches against the state funeral have sprung up across the country.

Anger grew on Wednesday when a man in his 70s set himself on fire near the prime minister’s residence in apparent protest at a state funeral, Japanese media reported. He was taken to the hospital when he was conscious.

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Protests in Kyoto. Image: Kyodo/AP


Some 62% of respondents in a recent Mainichi newspaper poll said they opposed a state funeral for Mr Abe.

Opposition to a state funeral is also linked to Mr Abe and links between lawmakers in the party he led, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the Unification Church.

The suspected killer of former prime minister Tetsu Yamagami accused the church of impoverishing his family, according to police. In social media posts before the killing, he accused Abe of supporting the group.

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Shinzo Abe’s moment on stage

State funerals are often for emperors

In Japan, state funerals have historically been reserved for the emperor.

The official public bill for the funeral is around ¥1.7bn (£11m), but experts say hidden costs such as security add to the total.

The decision to host one for the former prime minister was taken by the government and did not go through parliamentary approval. Some legal groups have challenged its legality.

While Mr. Abe was beloved by nationalists and many on the right for his defense and pro-market policies, he was reviled by many who want to keep the country’s pacifist constitution intact.

Mr Abe’s private funeral was held on July 12, and around 6,000 guests are expected to attend a state funeral next Tuesday.

Yamagami is said to be undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

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