Mourners lined the streets of central Tokyo on Tuesday to bid farewell to slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as his hearse drove past political landmarks following a private funeral.
The country’s longest-serving prime minister Minister was shot dead during his election campaign on Friday, in a crime that shocked Japan and sparked international condemnation and mourning.
His funeral was held Tuesday at Tokyo’s Zojoji Temple, attended by relatives and close acquaintances .
But elsewhere on the temple grounds, thousands of well-wishers lined up in the sweltering heat to pay their respects before a photograph of the late leader, who served until 2020.
“I can’t get over my sadness, so I came here to lay flowers,” consultant Tsukasa Yokawa, 41, told AFP, describing Abe as “a great one n Prime Minister who has done much to strengthen Japan’s presence around the world”. p>
After the service, a hearse carried Abe’s body for a final tour of some of the political landmarks in which he served: Parliament, the Prime Minister’s office and the headquarters of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
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Local residents gathered along the route while staffers and officials, including ministers and senior LDP figures, looked gloomy each venue. They pressed their hands together and bowed their heads respectfully as the car pulled up.
Abe’s widow Akie sat in front of the hearse—she carried her husband’s mortuary plaque inscribed with his posthumous Buddhist name—and bowed back.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s brother, called Tuesday’s killing “an act of terrorism”.
“I lost my brother. At the same time, Japan lost an irreplaceable leader,” he tweeted. “My brother loved Japan and risked his life to become a politician and protect this nation.”
In a speech at the funeral, 81-year-old Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso recalled drinking with him and Having played golf close ally.
“You should read a eulogy for me. It’s very painful,” he said, according to Japanese media.
Abe was campaigning in the western city of Nara when he was shot dead.
The murder suspect, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, is in custody and has told police he targeted Abe because he believed the politician was affiliated with an organization he disapproved of.
Yamagami approached him from behind in broad daylight, under circumstances that have raised questions about security.
Satoshi Ninoyu, the chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, a cabinet position, i The national police oversight vowed Tuesday to conduct a full review of any security deficiencies.
Local police have already identified deficiencies in their guarding program for the high-profile politician.
The search of the home of the Suspects by police have found pellets and other possible components to build a weapon like the crude weapon used in the attack, Japanese media reported Tuesday, citing unnamed investigative sources.
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Yamagami spent three years in the Japanese Navy and reportedly told investigators that his mother had made large donations to a religious organization of the family is struggling financially.
The Unification Church, a global religious movement founded in Korea in the 1950s, said Monday that Yamagamis Mother is a member but did not comment on any donations she may have made.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Tuesday that more than 1,700 condolences from 259 countries , territories and international organizations.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a previously unscheduled appointment and stopped in Tokyo to pay tribute to Abe, describing him as a “man of vision.”
And Taiwanese Vice President William Lai was also in Tokyo for a surprise trip, Taiwanese media reported.
China’s foreign ministry hit out at the visit, accusing Taiwanese authorities of using Abe’s death as an “opportunity for “political manipulation”.
However, Hayashi said Lai was traveling in a private capacity, and that there was no change in Japan’s policy on non-governmental industrial relations with Taiwan.
Public memorial services for Abe, 67, are expected to be held at a later date.
The scion of a political family, Abe first took power in 2006 and came in at the end of his second in 2020 His tenure at the helm due to ill health has sparked a series of scandals, including allegations of nepotism, but he has been praised by others for his economic strategy and efforts to place Japan firmly on the world stage.