In the face of street and social media protests that the state should not fund ceremonies for Japan’s longest-serving leader, the Japanese government announced on Friday that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be laid to rest on September 27. In a deeply shocking incident, Japan’s longest-serving leader was gunned down at a campaign rally two weeks ago.
Despite the fact that Abe’s funeral was held after his death, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) announced that a state funeral will be held for him at the Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo. ‘ We made this decision, as has been said before, because of Abe’s record as the longest-serving prime minister, during which he exerted leadership skills distinct from others and bore heavy responsibility for dealing with a number of serious domestic and international issues,’ chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told Kyodo News.
According to the news agency, approximately 200 people gathered near the Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo to protest the decision. From the use of taxpayer funds to concerns that the government may seek to make political capital out of Abe’s death, the Japanese people raised a number of concerns. With successive funerals paid for in part by the state and in part by the LDP, the last state funeral for an ex-prime minister paid for entirely by state funds occurred in 1967.
50 people filed an injunction in a Tokyo court seeking a halt to the use of public funds for the event, claiming there should have been more discussion before making a decision. According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by public broadcaster NHK, only 49% of people supported the idea of a state funeral.
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