State funeral for Shinzo Abe this fall

State funeral for Shinzo Abe this fall

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A national funeral will be organized this fall in Japan in memory of its former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated last Friday at the age of 67, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Thursday. 

Mr. Abe led Japan for more than eight and a half years (between 2006 and 2007 then from the end of 2012 to the summer of 2020), a national record, and strongly marked his economic and diplomatic policy, recalled Mr. Kishida during a press conference.

“Messages of condolence poured in from Japan and overseas. In view of this, we will hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe in the fall,” he said.

The event will also be a way of signaling that “Japan will not give in to violence” and that it is “determined to protect democracy”, according to the Prime Minister.

It will be the first state funeral for a former Japanese prime minister since that of Shigeru Yoshida in 1967, who played a key role in the country's post-war reconstruction.

A funeral reserved for Mr. Abe's family and relatives has already been held on Tuesday in a large Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Thousands of citizens also paid homage to him around the temple and as his funeral procession passed through the center of the capital.

Mr. Abe was shot dead last Friday in Nara (western Japan) while giving an election speech.

His alleged killer, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was immediately arrested after the attack. He told investigators that he targeted Mr. Abe because he was angry with a religious organization with which the former head of government had links, according to him.

According to local media, the mother of Mr. Yamagami is said to have made large donations to this organization in the past, putting his own family in serious financial difficulty.

The Unification Church, a South Korean-based movement also known as the “Moon Sect”, acknowledged on Monday that Yamagami's mother was among its followers, without specifying the extent of her donations. . She also said that Mr. Abe had “never” been one of its members or advisers.

Mr. Kishida also spoke on Thursday on other issues, including nuclear energy.

He said he requested that nine reactors in the country supply the grid l next winter, to help Japan avoid electricity shortages, a risk increased by its desire to reduce its supplies of Russian hydrocarbons against the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine.

However, the government cannot force restarting nuclear reactors. Mr. Kishida also specified that the authorities would give priority to “safety” and would listen to those living near the power plants.

Since the establishment of tough nuclear safety standards in Japan after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, ten reactors obtained green lights to restart out of 33 theoretically operable, but some of them are under maintenance and others are still awaiting regulatory or local authorisations.