AP

Hundreds demand cancellation of Japanese ex-leader’s funeral

Sep 22, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2022, 2:01 am

Protesters gather a park in Tokyo Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, demanding the cancellation of former Japa...

Protesters gather a park in Tokyo Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, demanding the cancellation of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral. (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

(AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

TOKYO (AP) — Several hundred protesters demanded the cancellation of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral as they shouted slogans and waved banners Friday in a Tokyo park.

“Abe’s policies supported war,” demonstrator Mayumi Ishida said, noting Abe consistently sought to raise defense spending. Like others at the protest, Ishida said he feared Abe’s views heralded a step back to the days of Japan’s militarism preceding World War II.

Abe, who was assassinated in July, was Japan’s longest-serving leader and one of its most divisive in the postwar period because of his revisionist view of wartime history, support for a stronger military, and what critics call an autocratic approach and cronyism.

Opposition to the state funeral has also grown because of politicians’ close ties to the Unification Church. Social media posts attributed to the suspect in Abe’s assassination show he blamed the church for ruining his life, and police say he targeted Abe over his links to the organization.

The government plan for his state funeral to be held Tuesday has galvanized public opposition against the governing Liberal Democratic party, which has ruled Japan for nearly the entire postwar period.

Protests and marches opposing the state funeral have been popping up nationwide, drawing hundreds of people. Earlier this week, a man set himself on fire by the prime minister’s residence in what was described as a suicide attempt in apparent protest of the funeral.

Yoshiko Kamata, a part-time worker at a convenience store, acknowledged the state funeral couldn’t be stopped, but it was an opportunity to drive home her message that Abe never stood with regular people.

“We want to show where we stand,” she said, noting dictators were being invited to the state funeral. “Just because he is dead, we aren’t going to forgive Abe.”

State funerals in Japan have been historically reserved for the emperor. The decision to hold one for Abe was made by the Cabinet and did not go through parliamentary approval. Some lawyers’ groups have challenged its legality.

The official public tab for the funeral is about 1.7 billion yen ($12 million), but experts note hidden costs such as security add to the total. Police were out in droves at Friday’s protest.

Some politicians have announced they will skip the funeral, including governing party lawmaker Seiichiro Murakami, a former Cabinet minister, who said it had failed to win public backing.

Abe’s state funeral has drawn ample comparisons to the recent state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in Britain.

Graduate student Daiki Kikuchi, sipping beer at a British pub in Tokyo while watching the queen’s funeral, couldn’t help but draw a contrast.

“I feel the British culture watching this, and there is a royal family that people love,” he said. “But he isn’t a king.”

___

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

7 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

7 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

7 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

8 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

8 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

11 days ago

Hundreds demand cancellation of Japanese ex-leader’s funeral