Shinzo Abe: Hundreds protest against former Japanese prime minister’s state funeral | World News

Several hundred protesters in Tokyo are calling for the cancellation of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral.

The country’s longest-serving leader was fatally shot at an outdoor campaign in July in the city of Nara.

Protesters dubbed Mr Abe’s policies as pro-war, noting his consistent efforts to raise defense spending and his close ties to the controversial Unification Church, which critics call a cult.

The 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 with regular people.

She said: “Just because he is dead, we aren’t going to forgive Abe.”

Protests and marches opposing the state funeral have been popping up nationwide.

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

Protests in Kyoto.  Pic: Kyodo/AP
Protests in Kyoto. Pic: Kyodo/AP

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

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

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

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Moment Shinzo Abe shot on stage

State funerals are often for emperors

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

The official public bill for the funeral is about 1.7 billion yen (£11m), but experts note that hidden costs such as security add to the total.

The decision to hold one for the former prime minister was made by the cabinet and did not go through parliamentary approval. Some lawyers’ groups have challenged its legality.

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

A private funeral for Mr Abe was held on 12 July and next Tuesday, around 6,000 guests are expected to gather for the state funeral.

Yamagami is reportedly undergoing a psychiatric examination.

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