Japanese former leader Abe honored at divisive state funeral

APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_87254 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_28403 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_52565 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_98329 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_70284 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_87109 Akie Abe, widow of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, wipes away tears during the state funeral of her husband Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022, at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. ///(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_84836 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_34226 Japan's Crown Prince Akishino, right, and Crown Princess Kiko walks on stage after paying their respects during the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Nippon Budokan, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_88216 Japan's Crown Prince Akishino, center, arrives with other family members to attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Philip Fong/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_97145 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris lays flowers during 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_Abe_Funeral_53603 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and other officials 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_Abe_Funeral_18526 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits Zojoji Temple on the day of the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_14516 A protester holds up a sign opposing to the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a protest in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Christopher Jue)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_54970 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_53654 People protest against a state funeral for Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, near the parliament in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. The rare and controversial state funeral for assassinated Abe began Tuesday in tense Japan where the event for one of the country's most divisive leaders has deeply split public opinion. (Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_48168 A street near the parliament is packed with protesters against a state funeral for Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. The rare and controversial state funeral for assassinated Abe began Tuesday in tense Japan where the event for one of the country's most divisive leaders has deeply split public opinion. (Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_65568 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attend 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)
Japan_Abe_Fuuneral_33289 International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_Jordan_41308 Jordan's King Abdullah II, left, poses for a photo with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before their meeting at the Akasaka Palace state guest house in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, Pool)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_EU_85452 European Council President Charles Michel, left, poses for a photo with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before their meeting at Akasaka Palace state guest house in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, Pool)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_Jordan_24948 People make a long line 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. (Sae Kushibe/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_12918 People gather to protest 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. (Masanori Kumagai/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_67142 People make a long line to lay flowers and pay respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, ahead of his state funeral later in the day. (Yusuke Ogata/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_39902 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_17412 Police officers stand guard around Nippon Budokan, the venue for a state funeral for Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Japan is filled with tension, rather than sadness, on Tuesday as the rare state funeral for the assassinated former Prime Minister Abe, one of the most divisive leader, deeply splits the nation. (Yohei Fukai/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_89895 A police officer patrols near the building to be used for the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as authorities have deployed extra officers to beef up securities in Tokyo, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is hosting the controversial state-sponsored ceremony for the former leader Tuesday. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_57998 Police officers stand guard around the Nippon Budokan, the venue for a state funeral for Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Japan is filled with tension, rather than sadness, on Tuesday as the rare state funeral for the assassinated former Prime Minister Abe, one of the most divisive leader, deeply splits the nation. (Yohei Fukai/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_26181 FILE - Japan's newly-named Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves at the media upon his arrival at the prime minister's official residence following his election at Parliament in Tokyo on Dec. 26, 2012. Japan is filled with tension, rather than sadness, on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 as a rare state funeral for the assassinated former Prime Minister Abe, one of the most divisive leader, deeply splits the nation. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_94352 FILE - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laughs while speaking at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington on Feb. 22, 2013. Japan is filled with tension, rather than sadness, on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 as a rare state funeral for the assassinated former Prime Minister Abe, one of the most divisive leader, deeply splits the nation. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Japan Abe Shooting FILE - In this image from a video, Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a campaign speech in Nara, western Japan shortly before he was shot on July 8, 2022. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022 ordered an investigation into the Unification Church in an apparent move to calm the public outrage over his governing party’s cozy ties with the controversial group revealed in the wake of the former leader Abe's assassination. (Kyodo News via AP, File)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_34178 Akie Abe, wife of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, carries a cinerary urn containing his ashes at his state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Franck Robichon/Pool photo via AP)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_86809 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_39367 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_25671 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_42713 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other officials attend the state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_28945 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_29684 Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's urn is brought into his state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_07921 Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's urn is on top of a wall of flowers at his state funeral, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. Abe was assassinated in July. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_51981 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)
APTOPIX_Japan_Abe_Funeral_38456 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_16389 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_77421 Akie Abe, sixth left, the widow of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, bows her head with others for a moment of silence during his state funeral at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Philip Fong/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_88487 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_Abe_Funeral_09350 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the Budokan hall to attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_68945 Japanese Crown Prince Akishino, left, accompanied by Crown Princess Kiko, arrives at the Nippon Budokan hall to attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_19526 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrives at the Nippon Budokan to attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_25547 Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko lay flowers at the altar 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_45691 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_79612 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_79767 Akie Abe, middle line, center right, wife of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, carries a box containing Abe's ashes, as she follows Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida while leaving the state funeral for Abe at Nippon Budokan Hall, in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_17703 Japanese Princess Kako, a daughter of Crwon Prince Akishino leaves the Nippon Budokan after she attended the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_43762 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, center, followed by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel attend the state funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_43458 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_94308 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_37156 A protestor holds a placard against a state funeral for 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_16137 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_77251 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_44952 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_48099 A police officer blocks a road near the Nippon Budokan, the venue for a state funeral for Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Japan is filled with tension, rather than sadness, on Tuesday as the rare state funeral for the assassinated former Prime Minister Abe, one of the most divisive leader, deeply splits the nation. (Kyodo News via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_66472 An image of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is displayed at the stands set up outside the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, as people queue up to leave flowers ahead of his state funeral. (Nicolas Datiche/Pool Photo via AP)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_25699 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)
Japan_Abe_Funeral_45812 Police officers patrol outside Nippon Budokan before the state funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
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TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s assassinated hawkish former leader, Shinzo Abe, was given a rare state funeral Tuesday full of military pomp and surrounded by throngs of mourners as well as by widespread protests, with thousands taking to the streets in opposition.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the publicly financed ceremony was a well-deserved honor for Japan’s longest-serving modern political leader. The event was attended by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Japanese Crown Prince Akishino and other foreign and Japanese dignitaries.

Japan’s main political opposition parties boycotted the funeral, which critics say was a reminder of how prewar imperialist governments used state funerals to fan nationalism. The government maintains that the ceremony was not meant to force anyone to honor Abe. But the decision to give him the rare honor — which was made without parliamentary debate or approval — as well as the funeral’s high cost and other controversies have led to anger about the event.

The funeral began with Abe’s widow, Akie Abe, in a black formal kimono, walking slowly behind Kishida into the funeral venue, carrying an urn in a wooden box wrapped in a purple cloth with gold stripes. Soldiers in white uniforms took Abe’s ashes and placed them on a pedestal filled with white and yellow chrysanthemums and decorations.

Attendants stood while a military band played the Kimigayo national anthem, then observed a moment of silence before a video was shown praising Abe’s life in politics. It included his 2006 parliamentary speech vowing to build a “beautiful Japan,” his visits to disaster-hit northern Japan after the March 2011 tsunami and his 2016 Super Mario impersonation in Rio de Janeiro to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kishida, in a 12-minute eulogy, praised Abe as a politician with a clear vision for post-World War II economic growth who promoted national security, the development of Japan and the world and a “free and open Indo-Pacific” as a counter to China’s rise.

“You were a person who should have lived much longer,” Kishida said as he looked up at a massive photo of Abe. “I had a firm belief that you would contribute as a compass showing the future direction of Japan and the rest of the world for 10 or 20 more years.”

Kishida said Abe will be remembered not just as the nation’s longest-serving leader but for what he achieved, and he pledged to carry on Abe’s policies for Japan and the region.

During the ceremony, Harris sat in the third row next to Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, and they later joined others by placing a branch of chrysanthemums on a table near Abe’s photo.

Abe was cremated in July following a private funeral at a Tokyo temple days after he was assassinated while giving a campaign speech on a street in Nara in western Japan.

Tokyo was under high security for the state funeral, especially near the venue, the Budokan martial arts hall.

At a protest in downtown Tokyo, thousands of people marched toward the hall, some banging drums and many shouting or holding banners and signs stating their opposition.

“Shinzo Abe has not done a single thing for regular people,” participant Kaoru Mano said.

Kishida has also been criticized because of a widening controversy over decades of close ties between Abe and the governing Liberal Democratic Party with the Unification Church, accused of raking in huge donations by brainwashing adherents. The suspect in Abe’s assassination reportedly told police he killed Abe because of his links to the church, which he said took large amounts of money from his mother, bankrupting his family and ruining his life.

“The fact that the close ties between the LDP and the Unification Church may have interfered with policymaking processes is seen by the Japanese people as a greater threat to democracy than Abe’s assassination,” Hosei University political science professor Jiro Yamaguchi wrote in a recent article.

Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped the South Korean-based church take root in Japan and is now seen as a key figure in the scandal. Opponents say holding a state funeral for Abe is equivalent to an endorsement of the governing party’s ties to the church.

“One big problem is that there was no proper approval process,” retiree Shin Watanabe said during the demonstration Tuesday. “I’m sure there are various views. But I don’t think it’s forgivable that they will force a state funeral on us when so many of us are opposed.”

Outside the Budokan hall, thousands of people carrying bouquets queued for several blocks to lay flowers in a nearby park.

“I’m emotionally attached to him and I’ve been supporting the LDP, too,” Masayuki Aoki, a 70-year-old business owner, said, recalling that he shared a fist bump with Abe at a campaign stop in Yokohama days before his assassination. “I came to offer him flowers.”

In what some see as an attempt to further justify the honor for Abe, Kishida has held meetings this week with visiting foreign leaders in what he calls “funeral diplomacy.” The talks are meant to strengthen ties as Japan faces regional and global challenges, including threats from China, Russia and North Korea.

He was to meet about 40 foreign leaders through Wednesday, though no Group of Seven leaders are attending. Following the funeral service Tuesday, Kishida greeted each of the leaders at a reception at the Akasaka state guest house.

U.S. Vice President Harris, who had a tour of Zojoji temple, where Abe’s family funeral was held in July, credited Abe with coming up with a term for regional cooperation.

“There has been much that has been said in honor of his long leadership to Japan but also to the United States. It was he who coined the term ‘free and open Indo-Pacific,’ and as a member of the Indo-Pacific region, as America, we cherish those principles, and we stand by it,” she said.

___

Associated Press journalists Chisato Tanaka, Yuri Kageyama and Chris Megerian contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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