Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest serving prime minister, was shot dead on the campaign trail in July

Japan to spend $12 million on state funeral for ex-premier Abe

Japan’s longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead while campaigning in July – Copyright AFP/File Sam Yeh

Japan expects to spend about 1.7 billion yen ($12 million) for a state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the government said on Tuesday, despite controversy over the plan.

Abe was shot dead while campaigning in July, and the government expects dozens of current and former heads of state to offer their condolences at a September 27 service in Tokyo.

But recent polls show that about half of Japanese voters oppose the state-funded event.

Security is expected to cost about 800 million yen, with another 600 million for the ceremony and 250 million for the ceremony, senior government official Hirozaku Matsuno said Tuesday.

“Most likely, delegates from more than 190 foreign countries and regions will take part,” he told reporters at a regular briefing.

The funeral will take place at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan, a venue used for concerts and sporting events that also hosted the last state funeral of the former Japanese prime minister in 1967.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the domestic and international achievements of Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, make the state ceremony appropriate.

But state funerals for former politicians are rare in Japan, and a poll published on Monday by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper found that 56 percent of voters oppose the event and 38 percent are in favor.

Other recent polls have shown a similar level of opposition, with Kishida saying he is ready to answer questions on the issue in parliament.

His government’s approval ratings have plummeted in recent weeks, due in part to the funeral decision.

Some opponents oppose spending public money on an event honoring a politician, while others believe that a state funeral effectively induces public mourning or minimizes Abe’s nationalist views and alleged connections to nepotism.

Accused of Abe’s murder, Tetsuya Yamagami, in custody, targeted the former leader, believing he was connected to the Unification Church.

Yamagami’s mother reportedly made large donations to the church, which her son blamed for the family’s financial difficulties.

Abe’s small, private funeral was held at a temple in Tokyo shortly after his death, and thousands of people gathered outside to lay flowers and pay their respects.

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