Shinzo Abe’s state funeral attracts thousands of protesters and supporters of former Japanese prime minister

Thousands of people have taken to the streets this Tuesday to show their opposition to the celebration of a state funeral for the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while a large number of supporters have laid flowers throughout the day to commemorate the former leader’s policies.

The protesters, who have criticized the funeral being held with public money, have clashed with Abe’s supporters, who have flocked to the park near the Nippon Budokan stadium, where the ceremony is taking place.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s plan to hold Abe’s funeral had already met with criticism from some of the Japanese public due to the cost and significance of Abe’s figure, which could cement further division in Japanese society.

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Some 15,000 people have gathered in front of the Japanese Parliament throughout the day to protest against the funeral, although another 2,500 have joined a march through the streets from Hibiya Park to Tokyo Station, as explained by the organizers in statements to the Kiodo news agency.

In the vicinity of the Nippon Budokan stadium, more than 200 people have gathered before trying to access the facilities, where more than 20,000 police officers have been deployed.

Keigo Ikeda, 21, a student at Meiji University, has expressed that he “cannot tolerate taxpayers’ money being used for the funeral.” The cost is estimated at 1.6 billion yen (about 11.4 million euros), although the government had originally put the cost at 249 million yen (1.7 million euros).

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Ikeda has also condemned some of the policies of Abe, whose government led to a reinterpretation of the Constitution and “turned the country into a puppet of the United States.”

However, others such as Kazuo Mashiba, 61, a former member of the Army, has noted that Abe “helped increase Japan’s security through his vision of a freer Indo-Pacific region.”

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister given that he led the government for eight years and eight months over two terms ending in September 2020, a factor underscored by Kishida as a compelling reason to hold the state funeral.

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