Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s funeral attracts foreign delegates who pay their respects

The vehicle, left, carrying the body of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo leaves Zojoji Temple after his funeral in Tokyo on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

Credit: AP Photo/Hiro Komae

On Tuesday, former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s funeral was held at a temple in central Tokyo. The private funeral was attended by 1,000 guests, including Abe’s family members, close friends, politicians, business leaders and foreign officials.

As huge crowds of ordinary citizens lined the streets to bid farewell to Abe, the Foreign Office said it was also inundated with more than 1,700 messages from some 260 countries, regions and organizations offering their condolences to Abe.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled stopover in Tokyo during a planned visit to Southeast Asia. He paid tribute to Abe, who was shot last Friday during a public election in the western city of Nara. He also delivered a letter from US President Joe Biden to Abe’s widow Akie and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also attended the funeral and met with Japan’s finance minister to discuss the country’s pressing economic challenges.

At the White House, flags flew at half mast in tribute to Abe. Biden condemned the violent attack and visited the Japanese ambassador’s residence, offering his condolences. “It is a loss not only for his family and the Japanese people, but also for the world. [Abe] was a man of peace and judgment,” he said in the handwritten letter.

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Abe left his mark on the international community by forging strong diplomatic ties with regional neighbors including Taiwan. He was instrumental in launching the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the United States, which pushes for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” largely in response to China’s military expansion and growing dominance in the region.

In 2015, Abe began publicly referring to Taiwan as an “important partner” and positioned Taiwan’s campaign for democracy as part of regional security. Taiwanese Vice President William Lai paid a rare visit to pay his respects at Abe’s residence, making him the highest-ranking Taiwanese official to visit Japan since the severance of diplomatic ties in 1972. Japan and Taiwan have all two pointed out that Lai’s visit was in a private capacity.

But at the same time, the Abe administration has sought to compartmentalize security issues in an effort to improve trade and business relations. Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his “deep condolences” following Abe’s tragic death. The Chinese Embassy in Japan also expressed “shock” and a representative thanked Abe for his contribution to improving China-Japan relations during his tenure.

Under Abe, Japan’s relations with South Korea were very strained, reaching rock bottom in late 2019, with South Koreans boycotting Japanese goods after Japan imposed export restrictions on manufacturing materials. of chips. But in recent months, the two countries have pledged to turn a new page and cooperate on the common threat posed by accelerated North Korean missile launches.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May, visited the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to pay his respects. He acknowledged Abe’s dedication to Asia’s prosperity and development and expressed his hope that “South Korea and Japan will cooperate closely in the future.” His administration recently began pursuing a consultation mechanism in a bid to lay the groundwork for resolving lingering historical issues in Japan-South Korea relations.

Before the coffin was sent for cremation, Abe’s widow, Akie, told mourners at the funeral that her husband’s sudden death still felt like a dream. She said she hoped her late husband’s political vision would continue: “I know he had a lot of unfinished business as a politician…but he planted many seeds which I’m sure , will germinate.”

The later part of Abe’s political career was marred by numerous corruption and cronyism scandals, including allegations of embezzlement for the annual cherry blossom viewing party and the cheap sale of prime land superior to private school operator Moritomo Gakuen, who had ties to Akie. Abbe. While his public approval rating plummeted, he managed to weather the scandals. The Abe administration also faced fierce public scrutiny for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 before his abrupt departure from office in late August 2020.

The government has confirmed that a state funeral will take place in the fall.

About Emilie Brandow

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