Arab News Japan
DUBAI/TOKYO: Japan’s slain ex-Prime Minister ABE Shinzo’s state funeral has started on Tuesday at 9:00 AM (Tokyo time,) with world leaders and mourners paying their respects.
Abe’s ashes were 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.
Inside the Budokan, 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 him strolling with G7 leaders, holding hands with children and visiting disaster areas.
More than 700 foreign guests and over 40 state leaders are present at the state funeral today.
Dignitaries include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, US Vice President Kamala Harris, India’s PM Narendra Modi, Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Philippines Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, Indonesia Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, and European Council President Charles Michel.
The streets of Budokan where the state funeral will take place have been closed since early morning, and according to sources, many police officers from other parts of Japan are present.
Mourners have already started queuing pay their respects to Abe, at a sectioned area that has been set up near the Budokan funeral hall venue for members of the public to leave flowers and tributes.
While mourners and world leaders pay their respects, protestors demonstrated outside the funeral hall, tussling with Japanese police.
The funeral is stated to have cost 1.65bn yen (or about $11.4m USD,) with many Japanese opposed to the state event.
On Monday, around 10,000 protestors marched through the streets of Tokyo demanding the funeral be called off.
Abe’s killing at a July 8 campaign rally set off a flood of revelations about ties between lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) he once ran and the Unification Church, which critics call a cult, sparking a backlash against current premier KISHIDA Fumio.
With his support ratings dragged to their lowest ever by the controversy, Kishida has apologised and vowed to cut party ties to the church.