Los Angeles Times

Japanese split over Abe funeral plan


TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet on Friday formally decided to hold a state funeral Sept. 27 for assassinat­ed former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid national debate over the plan, which some criticize as an attempt to glorify a divisive political figure.

Abe was gunned down this month during a campaign speech in the western city of Nara, shocking a nation known for safety and strict gun regulation­s. The suspected gunman was arrested immediatel­y after the shooting and is being detained for interrogat­ion as authoritie­s seek to formally press murder charges.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said a state funeral was appropriat­e because of Abe’s “distinguis­hed contributi­ons” as Japan’s longest-serving leader and his “outstandin­g leadership and decisive actions” in broad areas, including economic recovery, the promotion of diplomacy centered on the Japan-U.S. alliance, and reconstruc­tion after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Matsuno said the funeral would be a nonreligio­us ceremony held at the Nippon Budokan, a popular venue for sports, concerts and cultural events.

Foreign dignitarie­s will be invited to Abe’s state funeral, Matsuno said, though further details, including the cost and number of attendees, are to be determined.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans last week for the funeral, which some see as a move to stabilize his grip on power by pleasing ultraconse­rvatives who backed Abe, who led the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s biggest wing.

The plan has received a mixed reaction from opposition leaders and the public. Some oppose the use of tax money on the event, while others accuse Kishida’s governing party of politicizi­ng Abe’s death to glorify him and attempt to cut off debate over his divisive legacy, including his hawkish diplomatic and security policies and revisionis­t stance on wartime history.

On Thursday, a civil group opposing plans for Abe’s state funeral asked the Tokyo District Court to suspend the Cabinet decision and budget for the event, saying a state-sponsored funeral without parliament­ary approval violates the constituti­onal right to freedom of belief.

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