'You Were a Person Who Should Have Lived Much Longer'

Japan's Shinzo Abe was given a state funeral Tuesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 27, 2022 12:25 PM CDT
Chrysanthemums and Protests: Inside Abe's Funeral
Akie Abe, widow of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, carries a cinerary urn containing his ashes at his state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July.   (Franck Robichon/Pool photo via AP)

Japan's assassinated hawkish former leader, Shinzo Abe, was given a state funeral Tuesday, making him just the second politician to receive the honor in post-war Japan, reports the BBC. The event has deeply split public opinion. In addition to the thousands who took to the streets in protest, Japan's main political opposition parties boycotted the funeral, which critics say was a reminder of how prewar imperialist governments used state funerals to fan nationalism. The government maintains that the ceremony was not meant to force anyone to honor Abe. But the decision to give him the costly honor, which was made without parliamentary debate or approval, led to anger.

The event began with Abe's widow, Akie Abe, in a black formal kimono, walking slowly behind Prime Minister Fumio Kishida into the funeral venue, carrying an urn in a wooden box wrapped in a purple cloth with gold stripes. Soldiers in white uniforms took Abe’s ashes and placed them on a pedestal filled with white and yellow chrysanthemums and decorations. A video was shown praising Abe's life in politics: It included his 2006 parliamentary speech vowing to build a "beautiful Japan," his visits to disaster-hit northern Japan after the March 2011 tsunami, and his 2016 Super Mario impersonation in Rio de Janeiro to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kishida gave a 12-minute eulogy. The AP has these lines: "You were a person who should have lived much longer. I had a firm belief that you would contribute as a compass showing the future direction of Japan and the rest of the world for 10 or 20 more years." Abe was cremated in July following a private funeral at a Tokyo temple days after he was assassinated while giving a campaign speech on a street in Nara in western Japan.

(Read more Shinzo Abe stories.)

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