Japan: funeral of Shinzo Abe, the investigation into the assassination continues

Japan: funeral of Shinzo Abe, the investigation into the assassination continues

The family and loved ones of Shinzo Abe were due to attend the funeral of the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated last Friday in Tokyo on Tuesday, while the investigation continues into the suspect arrested at the scene of the attack.

The ceremony was to take place in the afternoon at the Buddhist temple Zojoji, in the center of Tokyo, in the presence in particular of the widow of Shinzo Abe, Akie, and the Prime Minister in office Fumio Kishida.

Many people went spontaneously in the morning in front of the temple to pay homage to the leader whose violent death at 67 shocked the country.

“I’m shocked and angry. I can’t get over my sadness, so I came to lay flowers and pray,” Tsukasa Yokawa, 41, told AFP. “I really respected him. He was a great prime minister who did a lot to increase Japan’s presence in the world,” he added.

Public tributes were to be held at a later date in Tokyo and the southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture, where Mr Abe was one of the representatives in the lower house of parliament.

– Posthumous decoration –

More than 2,000 people attended a wake Monday at the same temple, including Mr. Kishida, a representative of Emperor Naruhito, figures from Japan’s political and economic world and foreign diplomats.

At the scene, a photograph showing Shinzo Abe smiling in a shirt without a tie was displayed, while a video showed Akie Abe singing and her husband accompanying her on the piano, people present told the Jiji agency.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, currently traveling in Asia, also attended the wake on Monday, and Taiwan’s vice president made a discreet visit to Tokyo for the occasion.

According to local media, Mr. Abe will posthumously receive the Grand Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the most prestigious decoration in the Archipelago.

He had been attacked with a firearm on Friday while taking part in an electoral rally in Nara (western Japan) for the senatorial elections on Sunday, where the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, nationalist right) to which he belonged unsurprisingly picked up a comfortable victory.

His suspected killer, arrested at the scene of the attack, has been identified by police as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, a former member of the Japanese Navy’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.

According to police sources cited by local media, he watched videos on YouTube showing how to make a homemade firearm like the one used in the attack.

– Moon Sect –

The suspect explained that he deliberately targeted Mr. Abe, saying he was angry at an organization he thought he was affiliated with.

Japanese media quickly claimed that it was a religious organization to which Ms. Yamagami’s mother would have made large donations, putting their family in great financial difficulty.

The Unification Church, a cult of South Korean origin also known as the “Moon sect”, confirmed at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday that the suspect’s mother was among its followers but assured that Mr. Abe was neither a member nor an adviser of the organization.

Mr Abe, heir to a political dynasty, held the record for longevity as Japan’s prime minister, which he held from 2006-2007 and then again from late 2012 to the summer of 2020.

Both nationalist and pragmatic, he made an impression with his audacious economic policy dubbed “Abenomics”, combining massive fiscal stimulus with an ultra-accommodating monetary policy.

He also advocated a Japan free from its militaristic past and dreamed of revising the pacifist Japanese Constitution of 1947, written by the American occupiers and never amended since.

He had been forced to resign for health reasons, but had remained very influential within the PLD which he had led for a long time.

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