The state funeral of the former prime minister, who was murdered in July by the son of a ruined Moon sect follower, is causing widespread discontent, resulting in a drop in the approval rating of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II only served to accentuate the contrast with the funeral held on Tuesday 27 September in Tokyo of the former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on 8 July in Nara (western Japan). On the one hand, a figure of worldwide influence whose death aroused emotion well beyond England and whose national funeral was a matter of course. On the other hand, a politician, who certainly broke a record for longevity in power, but whose national funeral was not necessary. It was decided by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) without consultation with the opposition, which will not attend.
Since the announcement of the funeral, Mr. Kishida has sought unsuccessfully to justify the decision on two grounds: Mr. Abe strengthened the alliance with the United States and helped pull the country out of the crisis caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Instead, he dodged awkward questions and lent credence to speculation that it was a political manoeuvre to secure the support of the powerful – and right-wing – Abe clan within the LDP.
His decision came as a shock: more than 60 per cent of Japanese people are opposed to the national tribute, and Mr. Kishida’s support has fallen below 30 per cent. Only the younger generation (18-29 years old), a minority in an ageing society, are in favour of this national funeral, whose staggering cost (1.7 billion yen, or 12.2 million euros) has fuelled discontent at a time when inflation is rampant and tax increases are expected.