tokyo, Japan bid farewell to late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving leader, at a state funeral on Tuesday.
The 67-year-old politician was shot dead at an election rally in July, the BBC reported. About 20,000 police officers were reportedly deployed to protect the event, held at the Nippon Budokan Arena in central Tokyo, which cost taxpayers $1.65 billion yen ($11 million). Estimated cost.
The event is currently underway with thousands of dignitaries from around the world including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting in the arena. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida received the ashes, which appear to be contained in a ceremonial box.
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He then formally handed it over to the military officers, who placed the box in the center of an altar set up at the front of the room.
As many as 1,000 troops are on hand to perform ceremonial duties, including a military honor guard firing 19 blank rounds from a cannon to salute the former prime minister.This is only the second state funeral held in Japan. The second was for former Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru 55 years ago.
Members of the public lay flowers outside the venue to pay their respects. Public broadcaster NHK reports that flags at government offices across Japan are also flying at half-mast, but people protesting the costly event have taken to the streets in protest.
Some opponents have said the government and Japanese taxpayers should not bear the full cost of the event, while others question the logic as only one other former prime minister has been cremated in the state since the end of World War II.
An NHK opinion poll this month found that more than half of respondents disapproved of the event. Seventy percent said the government did not do a good enough job of explaining why state funerals were needed.
Abe’s death has also highlighted another political controversy. The suspect says he harbored a grudge against a religious group he claimed bankrupted his family. He says he believes Abe had close ties to the group, formerly known as the Unification Church, which is accused of extorting large sums of money from its followers.
In the wake of the shooting, hundreds of Japanese lawmakers admitted ties to the group, including nearly half of the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Kishida has asked members of his party to sever those links. However, the latest NHK poll suggests that nearly two-thirds of respondents do not believe that the LDP has addressed the matter properly.IANS