Shinzo Abe: Japanese mourners pay last respects to ex-PM at funeral

Image credit: Yahoo

Large crowds gathered in Tokyo’s streets to pay their final respects to Shinzo Abe, the recently assassinated former prime minister of Japan.

The 67-year-old was fatally shot on Friday while participating in a political rally in Nara, a city in the south.

Tuesday saw the cremation of Abe after his body was driven in a hearse through the city’s landmarks and to the funeral home.

A private funeral had previously taken place at the Zojoji temple.

Flags were at half-mast throughout Tokyo, and outside the temple, a line of mourners stretched for two blocks, many of whom were carrying bouquets.

Before arriving at the prime minister’s residence, the hearse drove by the LDP headquarters of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), where PM Fumio Kishida and other MPs met the procession.

Before reaching the Kirigaya Funeral Hall, it then passed the parliament building, where Abe made his first appearance as a legislator in 1993.

Abe was one of Japan’s most prominent politicians and the country’s longest-serving prime minister after the war. And his passing shocked a country where incidents of gun violence are incredibly uncommon.

According to the police, the shooter chose to target Abe because he complained about a religious organisation he thought Abe belonged. However, they are still looking into the shooter’s motivations and if he was acting alone.

Thousands of regular Japanese residents attended the vigil on Monday night to lay flowers, along with hundreds of officials.

He gave the Japanese something to be proud of, therefore I came here to give flowers, said Emi Osa.

Major foreign leaders expressed their horror at Abe’s passing, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling the shooting a “despicable attack” and drawing an outpouring of condolences.

In a phone conversation with Prime Minister Kishida, US President Joe Biden expressed his “outrage, sadness, and sincere condolences” and referred to the murder as “a tragedy for Japan.”

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