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Japan Bids Farewell to Former Prime Minister Abe at State Funeral

Published: September 28, 2022
Japan holds a state funeral for assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe on Sept. 27, 2022. (Image: Reuters screenshot)

With flowers, prayers and a 19-gun salute, Japan honoured slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the first state funeral for a former premier in 55 years — a ceremony that has become as controversial as he was in life.

The ceremony started at 2:00 p.m. (0500 GMT), with Abe’s ashes carried into the Nippon Budokan Hall in central Tokyo by his widow, Akie, to music from a military band and the booms of the honour-guard salute, which echoed inside the hall.

In the hall, a large portrait of Abe draped with black ribbon hung over a bank of green, white and yellow flowers. Nearby, a wall of photos showed Abe strolling with G7 leaders, holding hands with children and visiting disaster areas.

Abe was shot dead on July 8 by an assailant wielding a homemade gun win the city of Nara, near Kyoto in central Japan. The former prime minister was campaigning for his party.

A moment of silence was followed by a retrospective of Abe’s political life and speeches by leading ruling party figures, including Fumio Kishida and Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s successors as prime ministers. Speaking from his point of view as Abe’s friend, Suga noted that many people in their 20s and 30s had shown up to offer flowers. Abe’s widow, dressed in a black kimono, wiped away tears as Suga spoke.

Foreign dignitary guests included U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach.

By Reuters. (Production: Kohei Miyazaki, Akiko Okamoto)