With flowers, prayers and 19 gunshots, Japan honored the slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday at his first state funeral for a former prime minister in 55 years.
From early in the morning, thousands of mourners rushed to a designated spot near the venue to pay their final respects.
About 10,000 people laid flowers within a few hours, according to television, and there was a line for another three hours.
Some 4,300 people attended the funeral, including at least 48 current or former government officials, including Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Garzin also attended.
Akie Abe, the widow of Prime Minister Abe, wears a black formal kimono and carries an urn in a wooden box wrapped in purple cloth with gold stripes, to the music and boom of the military band. The ceremony began at the Nippon Budokan Hall in central Tokyo. Honor guard salute. Soldiers in white uniforms took Abe’s ashes and placed them on a pedestal filled with white and yellow chrysanthemums and decorations.
While the military band played the Kimigayo national anthem, attendees stood for a moment of silence before a video praising Abe’s political life was shown. These include his 2006 parliamentary speech in which he pledged to build a “beautiful Japan,” his visit to post-tsunami-hit northern Japan in March 2011, his Super Mario spoof in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and his 2020 appearance in Tokyo. It included promoting the Olympics.
In his 12-minute eulogy, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called Prime Minister Abe a clear vision for post-World War II economic growth, focusing on national security, the development of Japan and the world, and a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” was praised as a politician who promoted ” as a countermeasure against threats from the Chinese regime.
“You should have lived longer,” Kishida said, looking up at a giant photo of Abe. “I was convinced that it would serve as a compass that showed the direction of Japan and the world in the next 10 to 20 years.”
Kishida said Abe will be remembered not only as the country’s longest-serving leader, but for what he has achieved, and promised to carry on Abe’s policies for Japan and the region.
Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s successor and Kishida’s predecessor, said many people in their 20s and 30s came to lay flowers.
“You always said that you want to make Japan better, that you want young people to have hope and pride,” Suga said with a trembling voice.
Mr. Abe’s widow wiped away tears with Mr. Suga’s words.
During the ceremony, Harris sat in the third row next to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emmanuel before joining the others with a chrysanthemum branch on the table near a photograph of Abe.
Finally, mourners offered flowers on the stage, and Kishida and Akie Abe carried out the ashes, ending the ceremony.
Abe was cremated in July after holding a private funeral at a temple in Tokyo, days after he was assassinated during an election speech on the streets of Nara, western Japan.
On the day of the state funeral, about 20,000 police were deployed, nearby roads were closed, and even some schools were closed.Unification Church impoverishing his family.
During a protest in downtown Tokyo, thousands marched into the hall, beating drums, and many shouting and holding up banners and signs expressing their opposition.
Participant Kaoru Mano said, “Shinzo Abe has done nothing to ordinary people.
Abe’s state funeral was the first since former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1967 to hold a private burial just days after he was assassinated.
Kishida said the decision was to honor Abe’s achievements and defend democracy, but opinions are divided among ordinary Japanese. In a recent TV Asahi poll, only 30% of respondents agreed with the funeral, while 54% opposed it.
Following Tuesday’s funeral, Prime Minister Kishida greeted foreign leaders at a reception at the Akasaka State Guest House.
Harris, who toured Zojoji Temple, where Abe’s family’s funeral was held in July, credited Abe with coming up with terms for regional cooperation.
“Many things have been said in honor of his long leadership not only for Japan but also for the United States. As a member of the United States of America, we cherish and uphold these principles.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.