The event comes amid anger in Japan that taxpayers will pay the $11.5 million bill to honor a US leader and staunch ally who was popular abroad but often divisive at home. The furor is compounded by a scandal that has engulfed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party since its ties to a religious group came to the fore in the weeks after the former Conservative leader was fatally shot.
As the world comes together to honor Abe, Japan struggles with the influence of the Church
The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, told police he wanted to commit the murder because his life and family had been ruined as a result of his mother’s large donations to the Unification Church, with which Abe apparently had close ties. The Church has confirmed that Yamagami’s mother was a member.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside one of Tokyo’s most crowded subway stations in Shinjuku Monday night to protest the funeral. Demonstrations are expected outside the Diet, Japan’s national assembly, during the service, which will begin at 2 p.m. local time at the Nippon Budokan hall in the capital.
Japanese authorities stepped up security measures for the occasion, especially in light of the acknowledged flaws that allowed the gunman to approach Abe and open fire with a homemade weapon during a campaign event.
According to Nikkei Asia, about 4,300 guests, including about 700 from abroad, are expected to attend Tuesday’s closed ceremony. The public can visit a park near the Budokan to offer flowers.
Before the funeral, Harris will hold bilateral meetings with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-Soo and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Her advisers have said talks will broadly focus on regional economic and security issues, including China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait and cooperation against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Monday, after arriving in Tokyo, Harris met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, expressing her condolences on Abe’s death and highlighting the US-Japan alliance and US support for Abe’s vision. of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’.
With the US midterm elections coming up in a few weeks, both President Biden and Harris had planned to limit their travel to places in the United States, touting victories under their administration and campaigning and raising money for Democrats. . But the White House changed its plans after the deaths of Abe in July and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on September 8.
Japanese police chiefs resign over security concerns in Abe . murder
“As you have said, the alliance between Japan and the United States is a cornerstone of what we believe is an integral part of peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” Harris told Kishida on Monday. “And it’s something we’ve prioritized because we also believe it’s in the best interest of the American people in terms of their security and prosperity — and we believe the same for the Japanese people.”
In addition to the events surrounding Abe’s funeral, Harris also plans to visit Zojoji Temple, where thousands of Japanese flocked to pay their respects in the immediate aftermath of the former leader’s assassination.