The Washington Post

Sept. 27 state funeral planned for Shinzo Abe

- — Michelle Ye Hee Lee

Japan is looking to hold a state funeral on Sept. 27 to honor former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinat­ed this month, Japanese news outlets reported Wednesday.

The event is expected to be a major gathering of current and former world leaders. Abe worked to increase Japan’s image and influence globally, and was the country’s longest-serving and most recognizab­le leader of the modern era.

Arrangemen­ts for a state funeral have sparked mixed reactions and criticisms of whether taxpayer money should be spent on the event, particular­ly for a leader who was domestical­ly divisive.

It would be the second state funeral in postwar Japan since the 1967 death of Shigeru Yoshida and a break from past practice, in which ceremonies for former leaders have been jointly funded by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Japanese cabinet. A state funeral would be fully taxpayer-funded.

Abe was killed July 8 after a man armed with a homemade weapon fired twice at him at a rally in Nara, near Osaka, ahead of this month’s upper house election.

The suspect, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, told law enforcemen­t that he had a grudge against Abe and believed the former leader was connected to a religious organizati­on to which Yamagami’s mother had donated much of her money. Later, the Unificatio­n Church confirmed his mother was a member.

Yamagami sent a letter to a critic of the Unificatio­n Church, which had long courted conservati­ve leaders in Japan and elsewhere, declaring his intention to kill Abe, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported. He had multiple homemade guns in his home, police said.

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