Shinzo Abe state funeral: PM Modi, world leaders pay respects
A mourning Japan remembered its former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday at his state funeral processions in Tokyo. Several world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attended the ceremony to pay their respects. Abe, who served as Japan's PM for about nine years and is known to have reshaped the country's foreign policy, was assassinated on July 8.
Why does this story matter?
The assassination of Abe, which was carried out with a homemade gun from close range, had baffled Japan. Many wondered how a person could acquire a gun in one of the world's safest nations and shoot at such an esteemed political figure. Despite the fact that the assassin was quickly captured and taken by the police for questioning, the incident caused widespread outrage.
Abe's funeral held at Tokyo Hall
The controversial state funeral began at 2:00 pm (10:30 am IST) on Tuesday and is being attended by over 100 world leaders. Abe's widow Akie entered Tokyo Hall carrying his ashes as thousands of mourners gathered around. As the ceremony commenced, a 19-gun salute was sounded to pay respects to the ex-prime minister. However, expenses of the state funeral have triggered a massive backlash.
Watch: PM Modi attends Abe's funeral
PM Modi underlines Abe's contribution
As mentioned earlier, Abe grafted a new vision for Japan's foreign policy and drastically improved India-Japan relations during his tenure. Upon meeting the current Japanese PM Fumio Kishida on Tuesday, Modi highlighted Abe's contribution to strengthening the India-Japan partnership and underlined his vision of a "free, open, and inclusive" Indo-Pacific. Modi has often called Abe a dear friend and a "champion" of India-Japan friendship.
Controversy over state funeral
Abe is receiving a full state funeral, believed to have cost millions to Japan. He is the second Japanese politician to get a state funeral. Reportedly, the ceremony has seen wide public opposition because state funerals are typically reserved for Japan's Imperial family. About 60% of Japanese citizens were apparently against the decision to give the 67-year-old former premier a state funeral, AFP reported.
Widespread protests against state funeral ceremonies
Abe was shot during an election rally
On July 8, Abe was delivering an election speech in Nara, Japan, when the attacker shot at him. The gunman was immediately tackled by security personnel, and photographs and videos showed Abe fainting and lying face-up on the pavement. He breathed his last at a nearby hospital. India declared a day of national mourning on July 9 as a mark of respect for Abe.
Who was Shinzo Abe?
Notably, Abe was Japan's longest-serving prime minister. He held the post from 2012 to 2020, when he stepped down due to persistent ulcerative colitis. He had also previously served as Japan's youngest prime minister since World War II for a year in 2006. Even after resigning, he maintained a stronghold on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), commanding one of its key factions.