Shinzo Abe: Hundreds protest against former Japanese prime minister’s state funeral | World News

Hundreds of protesters in Tokyo are calling for the cancellation of the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The country’s longest-serving leader was fatally shot in an outdoor action in July in the city of Nara.

Demonstrators described Mr Abe’s policies as pro-war, noting his consistent efforts to increase defense spending and his close ties to the controversial Unification Church, which critics describe as a cult.

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The state funeral will take place next Tuesday, but protesters are calling for its cancellation.

Yoshiko Kamata, a part-time supermarket worker, said the protest was a good opportunity to send a message that Mr Abe had never stood with ordinary people.

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She said, “Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean we’re going to forgive Abe.”

There are protests and marches across the country against the state funeral.

Anger mounted on Wednesday when a man in his 70s set himself on fire near the prime minister’s residence in apparent protest at the state funeral, Japanese media reported. He was taken to the hospital while he was conscious.

Protests in Kyoto.  Image: Kyodo/AP
Protests in Kyoto. Image: Kyodo/AP

About 62% of respondents in a recent poll conducted by the Mainichi newspaper said they oppose holding a state funeral for Mr. Abe.

Opposition to the state funeral is also linked to Mr Abe and links between lawmakers in the party he leads, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church.

The former prime minister’s alleged killer, Tetsuya Yamagami, accused the church of impoverishing his family, according to police. In social media posts before the killing, he accused Mr Abe of supporting the group.

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Moment Shinzo Abe shot dead on stage

State funerals are often for emperors

In Japan, state funerals were historically reserved for the emperor.

The official public bill for the funeral is about 1.7 billion yen (£11 million), but experts point out that hidden costs like security add to the total.

The decision to keep one for the former Prime Minister was made by Cabinet and not approved by Parliament. Some advocacy groups have questioned its legality.

While Mr. Abe has been loved by nationalists and many on the right for his pro-defence and pro-market policies, he has been reviled by many who want to leave the country’s pacifist constitution unchanged.

A private funeral was held for Mr. Abe on July 12, and around 6,000 guests are expected at the state funeral next Tuesday.

Yamagami is reportedly undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

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