Abe’s militaristic funeral captures Japan’s tense mood

Sep 26, 2022, 3:35 PM | Updated: Sep 27, 2022, 6:14 pm
Protestors rally against the controversial state-sponsored funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo ...

Protestors rally against the controversial state-sponsored funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (AP Photo/Christopher Jue)

(AP Photo/Christopher Jue)

              Protestors rally against the controversial state-sponsored funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (AP Photo/Christopher Jue)
            
              Protesters oppose the controversial state-sponsored funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (AP Photo/Christopher Jue)
            
              Akie Abe, wife of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, carries her husband's urn, as she leaves his state funeral at Nippon Budokan, in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)
            
              U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno to express sympathy for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's death, as she was visiting Akasaka Palace state guest house in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, center, attends the state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Guests attend the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving leader in his nation’s modern history, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida bows before he sends his condolences during the state funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022, at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool) ///
            
              Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida stands at the altar during former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida walks on stage during the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving leader in his nation’s modern history, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Honor guards salute a cinerary urn containing former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ashes on the altar during his state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Franck Robichon/Pool photo via AP)
            
              Color guards carry the remains of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe during the state funeral Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022, at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool) ///
            
              Akie Abe, widow of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, right, hands off her husband's remains to Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the state funeral Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022, at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool) ///
            
              Akie Abe, widow of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, arrives with her husband's remains at the state funeral Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022, at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool) ///
            
              A portrait of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hangs on the stage during his state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force personnel fire cannons at the Nippon Budokan grounds for the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Hundreds of guests attend the state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Akie Abe, wife of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, bows at the altar during his state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. He was assassinated in July. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              The portrait of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen on the altar during his state funeral at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2022. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Service members stand on a street on the day of the state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force personnel fire cannons at the Nippon Budokan grounds for the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              A police officer stands guard outside of a police station with the national flag at half-staff on the day of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's funeral in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. He was assassinated in July. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
            
              People wait in lines to lay flowers and pay respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the stands set up outside the venue for his state funeral in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Kyodo News via AP)
            
              Police officers surround protesters against a state funeral for Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. A tense Japan prepared Tuesday for the rare and controversial state funeral for assassinated Abe, the longest-serving leader in his nation's modern history and one of the most divisive. (Minoru Iwasaki/Kyodo News via AP)
            
              People pay their respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outside the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, ahead of his state funeral later in the day. (Nicolas Datiche/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              A protester holds a sign opposing the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a protest in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Christopher Jue)
            
              People leave flowers and pay their respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outside the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, ahead of his state funeral later in the day. (Nicolas Datiche/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Members of an honor guard carry the ashes of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the altar during the start of his state funeral at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Philip Fong/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Police block the road leading to Nippon Budokan where the controversial state-sponsored funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (AP Photo/Christopher Jue)
            
              TV screens show the news programs reporting the state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Fukuoka, western Japan, on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — The leadup to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial state funeral could seem like a never-ending exchange of heated words — both for and against. But it was the images of Tuesday’s ceremony that most clearly told the story of a nation still deeply divided over the legacy of perhaps the most polarizing leader in its modern history.

Sections of Tokyo, still on edge after Abe’s assassination in July, looked more like a police state than the capital of one of the most stable nations in the world. Twenty thousand police officers and more than 1,000 soldiers crammed the neighborhoods around the massive funeral hall, as thousands of protesters took to the streets.

If Japan is sometimes seen from abroad as a monolith of sorts, a largely uniform middleclass haven of social harmony, Abe’s funeral laid bare some of the messy reality of a divided nation. It’s a place where the shadow of World War II — a subject Abe spent much of his career addressing — can still loom as large as the economic and security worries that drive modern elections.

For many of the thousands of public mourners who stood in long lines to take turns bowing and laying small bouquets of flowers beneath photos of Abe in a park near the official ceremonies, the former leader spearheaded a heroic, still unfinished quest to make Japan a “normal country.” He encouraged a sense of national pride in Japan’s enormous international contributions instead of focusing on a lingering shame over war-era brutality.

“Former Prime Minister Abe was such a great prominent figure. He brought Japan back to international importance after World War II,” said one of the mourners, Masae Kurokawa, 64.

As he left an offering of flowers, Masayuki Aoki, 70, simply said, “I’m emotionally attached to him.”

But Abe, in life and in death, generated as much anger as admiration.

Large groups of protesters marched through Tokyo, banging drums, shouting and holding signs that urged the funeral be scrapped. Similar anti-Abe rallies happened across the country, a reflection of a deep resentment about honoring a man who critics say repeatedly tried to whitewash Japan’s wartime atrocities, stir nationalist sentiment and engage in high-handed leadership.

“Shinzo Abe has not done a single thing for regular people,” said Kaoru Mano, a Tokyo housewife who was at one protest.

The militaristic tones of the funeral were especially striking in a nation that has operated under a pacifist constitution since 1947 — a constitution Abe wanted to revise to expand the military.

A military band played a funeral dirge and a 19-gun volley was fired as his widow brought Abe’s ashes into the funeral hall. Dozens of soldiers in crisp, white dress uniforms carried rifles with bayonets as they stood at attention in front of a huge rampart of tens of thousands of white and yellow chrysanthemums that led up to a large photograph of Abe, draped in black ribbon.

Outside the funeral hall, hundreds of police stood outside office buildings, schools and train stations. The extreme security was linked in part to the continuing shock over Abe’s assassination, in which a suspect reportedly angry about the former leader’s links to a conservative South Korean religious group, the Unification Church, allegedly shot him with a homemade gun while he was giving a campaign speech in western Japan.

In some ways, the split public reactions to the state funeral, which has links to prewar imperial ceremonies that celebrated nationalism, reflect Abe’s career-long push to change the way his nation operates on the world stage.

Adored by many in Washington for his staunch military and diplomatic support, he was loathed by liberals at home and by the Koreas and China for his support of conservative revisionist efforts and his push to end apologies over the war.

Abe saw the country’s constitution, which was written largely by occupying Americans, as the product of “victor’s justice” by the West over Japan. That constitution renounces the use of force in international conflicts and limits Japan’s military to self defense, although the country has an advanced modern army, navy and air force.

Abe’s legacy is likely to last in the political party he spent years championing. For all the protesters in the streets Tuesday, the Liberal Democratic Party has ruled almost without interruption since the war’s end; Abe won six national elections during his long years in power.

His LDP acolytes are legion, most prominently the current leader, Fumio Kishida, who has vowed to bolster Japan’s military capabilities and carry on many of Abe’s policies.

“I hereby announce my pledge to create a Japan, a region and a world that are sustainable, inclusive and where everyone shines on top of the foundation that you built,” Kishida said, addressing Abe in his funeral speech.

___

Foster Klug, AP’s news director for Japan, the Koreas, Australia and the South Pacific, has covered Japan since 2005.

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

AP

concede...
Associated Press

GOP’s Joe Kent contests results of Washington state race

Republican Joe Kent's campaign said Friday it intends to request a machine ballot recount of the counties within southwest Washington state's 3rd Congressional District.
16 hours ago
Gavel...
Associated Press

Case against man arrested in 1994 death of woman dismissed

Criminal charges against a man suspected in the 1994 murder of a Vancouver, Washington, woman have been dismissed.
16 hours ago
FILE - In this courtroom drawing, from left, Brandon Caserta with his attorney Michael Darragh Hill...
Associated Press

Prosecutors in Whitmer kidnap plot say life sentence fits

Federal prosecutors told a judge Monday that a life prison sentence would be justified for the leader of a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying his goal to turn the country upside down in 2020 was a forerunner of rampant anti-government extremism. “If our elected leaders must live in fear, our representative government […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Norfolk Southern locomotives are moved in the in the Conway Terminal in Conway, Pa., Sept. 1...
Associated Press

Investors press railroads to add sick time for workers

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Major freight railroads are facing pressure to add sick days for their workers from a new front: An influential investment group says some of its members are now pushing the measure that Congress declined to as part of the contracts they imposed last week to avert a potentially devastating nationwide rail […]
16 hours ago
FILE - A bulldozer clears an area of forest that will be the line of the Mayan Train in Puerto More...
Associated Press

Mexico pledges to complete huge elevated train in one year

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s troubled Maya Train tourist project will now include a 45-mile (72 kilometer) stretch of elevated trackway through the jungle, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday. López Obrador has changed his mind a number of times on his pet project, which is intended to ferry tourists around the Yucatan peninsula. […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Global survey: workplace violence, harassment is widespread

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The first attempt to survey the extent of violence and harassment at work around the globe has found that workplace abuse is widespread, and particularly pronounced among young people, migrants, and wage earners, especially women. More than 22% of the nearly 75,000 workers in 121 countries surveyed last year reported having […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Abe’s militaristic funeral captures Japan’s tense mood