Japan: Thousands of Japanese bid farewell to Shinzo Abe after a solemn private funeral | International

Japanese tradition imposes that the funeral procession of the person who has just died travels through the places that were important for the deceased in life. Shinzo Abe, 67, occupied the heart of power in Japan. This Tuesday, the hearse of the former prime minister, assassinated last Friday, toured several of the temples of that power: the headquarters of the prime minister, Parliament and the headquarters of his political party, the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD). He did it in the midst of a sorrowful crowd that filled the streets of Tokyo through which the procession with his remains had to pass. “He died like a hero,” whispered an old woman who watched the passing of the caravan with eyes full of tears. Before touring the Japanese capital, the Zozoji temple, an emblematic place of the 16th century, had hosted a funeral announced as private but which acquired the tone of an official farewell, a state funeral actually postponed for a date yet to be specified.

The imposing and palatial Buddhist temple received only a hundred guests, relatives and close friends, who came to pay their respects to the politician whose assassination in Nara, the ancient Japanese medieval capital, some 500 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, has shocked the citizens of one of the most peaceful countries in the world. abe He died after being shot several times in the back with a homemade weapon by an individual identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, who was arrested immediately afterwards. This suspect has assured investigators that he committed the murder to take revenge for Abe’s alleged support of the Unification Church of Japan or Moon Sect, to which his mother made a “huge donation”, the Kyodo news agency reported citing sources. police.

The ceremony lasted half an hour. There were all the names that matter in Japanese politics and the Liberal Democratic Party, the political force to which the Abe family, a member of an important political saga, has been linked since its founding in 1955. Among them, the current first minister, Fumio Kishida, and the general secretary of the PLD, Toshimitsu Motegi. Also international leaders, such as the vice president of Taiwan, William Lai, a presence that has provoked a diplomatic protest from China.

Meika Nakashima, 72, a resident of neighboring Saitama prefecture, was one of those who traveled to Zojoji on Tuesday, carrying a bouquet of flowers and a frame with numerous photos of the late Abe, including one taken with her in June. “Mr. Abe worked hard for the country, but now he is dead. I have come to pray for him to rest in peace, “he said in statements to Efe.

When the private funeral ended, the hearse drove past the temple. Beside the driver, as Buddhist tradition also dictates, was Abe’s widow, Akie, carrying a small wooden votive tablet bearing the posthumous name of her husband. “Abe-san, Abe-san”, (Mr. Abe, Mr. Abe) chanted many Japanese, some dressed in mourning, taking photos and shouting their goodbyes to the murdered politician.

Almost everyone wore masks, but this was not the time for social distancing. A man shouted the customary “Thank you for your work” in Japan when someone finished a task. Others followed suit. Sobbing could be heard as the black car drove away, and many took out their handkerchiefs to wipe their tears. In front of the Parliament and the headquarters of the PLD, deputies, ministers and the head of government Kishida himself said goodbye to Abe with a bow as he passed his mortal remains.

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