Why Japanese Are Furious About a State Funeral for Shinzo Abe? 

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s most powerful and longest-serving prime minister, was shot and killed on the day during a campaign visit over 3 months ago, and the effects of his loss are still being felt, but not in ways many would have anticipated.   

State Funeral for Shinzo Abe

State Funeral for Shinzo Abe

A protest against the planned state funeral for Shinzo Abe,

The murder has sparked an outburst of rage, but it is not directed at the murderer, his capacity to manufacture and use a handgun in a society where guns are strictly prohibited, or the security team that failed to safeguard Mr. Abe. The long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its decision to offer a state burial for the deceased leader the following week have drawn the ire of the populace.     

Since taking over as the party’s head last fall, Fumio Kishida, the present prime minister, has seen his support ratings plummet. Thousands of demonstrators have rushed to the roads or filed a petition protesting the state funeral, claiming it is a waste of taxpayer funds and was unilaterally pushed onto the nation by Mr. Kishida and his government. As a result, any feeling of national grieving appears to have diminished.   

Tetsuya Yamagami

Tetsuya Yamagami after the shooting in Nara, Japan

The murder of Mr. Abe has also sparked a torrent of unsettling information regarding connections between leaders in the ruling party and a radical religious organization. Tetsuya Yamagami, the man accused of killing Mr. Abe, expressed his resentment in writing before the shooting at the Unification Church, an organization with extensive activities and legal complications in Japan.      

Unification Church

A Tokyo branch of the Unification Church.

 For some people who have felt battered by social and financial forces outside their control, Tetsuya yamagami has evolved into a sort of romantic antihero.    

And in what may be the greatest irony of all, rather than being despised, Mr. Yamagami’s narrative has touched a nerve with the Japanese people. The church’s activities in Japan and the links among leaders and a group suspected of preying on vulnerable individuals, including Mr. Yamagami’s mother, for its financial advantage have been the focus of weeks of investigation by Japan’s sometimes reticent mainstream media.  

 Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe

Since hundreds of international dignitaries will be attending Mr. Abe’s state funeral on Tuesday, the first for a Japanese prime minister in 55 years, the reaction has changed into a referendum on his almost eight years in government. While Mr. Abe was overwhelmingly praised on the international stage, his right-wing policies caused considerably greater division in his own country, and individuals who opposed his rule are now articulating a wide range of complaints.    

Those opposed to the state funeral, according to Azumi Tamura, an associate professor of sociology at Shiga University, thought it would unfairly uplift a politician who had been linked to several contentious choices and controversies, including claims that his administration had improperly favored political allies and handled the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic poorly.   

“Now people wonder why more people weren’t angry at the time,” she remarked. These are the problems that ought to have brought his regime to its knees but didn’t.    

Almost half of the party in power’s 379 lawmakers have admitted to having connections to the unification church, according to the ruling party.

State Funeral for Shinzo Abe

The hearse carrying Mr. Abe’s body in Tokyo in July.

   

Voters may maintain Mr. Abe’s party in power for the sake of stability, but by rejecting the notion to commemorate him in death, they are expressing their disapproval of his conduct during his lifetime.    

Several hundred people assembled in Yoyogi Park in the heart of Tokyo on Monday to protest the funeral, waving multicolored flags in support of a wide range of causes, including women’s empowerment, disability rights, L.G.B.T.Q. solidarity, and opposition to nuclear energy and American military installations.    

Shuhei Sato, 42, stood outside in the rain and said, “I believe it’s vital for all of us to gather as a group and share our thoughts. It is not OK what Abe did, what he stood for, or who he injured. 

 

 

Source: NY Times

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