Japan Set To Bid Final Farewell To Shinzo Abe, Its Longest-Serving PM

Japan is set to bid farewell to its longest-serving premier Shinzo Abe, who dominated Japanese politics for decades, before being assassinated at a campaign rally last week. The site of Abe’s funeral at Tokyo’s Zojoji temple is witnessing long queues since early morning with people dressed in black, mixed with others in informal clothing with backpacks. The 1:00 pm ceremony will remain open only to family and close friends. Several mourners had visited the temple beating summer heat on Monday to pay their respects to Abe.

The 67-year-old leader was killed by an unemployed man sending shockwaves across the world, especially when the nation has witnessed rare gun crime and political violence.

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Once the funeral is over, the hearse bearing Abe’s body will be taken through central Tokyo with black mourning ribbons draped in Japanese flags, reported news agency Reuters.

The procession will pass through the capital’s political heart of Nagatacho covering landmarks such as the parliament building where Abe had first entered as a young lawmaker in 1993, and then the office from where the former premier led the nation in two stints, the longest being from 2012 to 2020, reported the news agency.

International leaders paid their tributes including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who halted in Japan on Monday morning to pay his respects to the leader during his Southeast Asia trip. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Taiwan vice president William Lai also privately visited as family friends.

French leader Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences in a video posted on Twitter after he visited the Japanese embassy in Paris. “I remember all our meetings and work together, especially during my visit (to Japan) in 2019 … I’ve lost a friend,” said a solemn Macron.

“He served his country with great courage, and audacity.”

The suspected killer identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami believed that Abe had promoted a religious group to which his mother made a large donation and became bankrupt, according to Kyodo news agency.

The Unification Church, known for its mass weddings and devoted following, said on Monday the suspect’s mother was one of its members.