Japan bids farewell to assassinated former PM Shinzo Abe | Political News

People lined the streets as the corpse carrying Abe’s body was driven around Tokyo after a private funeral at Zojoji Temple.

The Japanese came out in their hundreds to say goodbye to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who dominated the country’s politics before he resigned in 2020, and died after being shot at a campaign rally last week.

People packed on pavements lined with police as Abe’s body left central Tokyo’s Zojoji Temple on Tuesday afternoon. People shouted, applauded and waved as the car passed by, holding flowers.

Earlier on Tuesday, many lined up at the temple to pay their respects to the former prime minister, who is 67 years old.

The murder of him on Friday by an unemployed man with a homemade gun came as a shock in a country where gun crime and political violence are very rare.

Keiko Noumi, a 58-year-old teacher, was among those offering prayers and flowers in front of a large picture of Abe placed inside the temple grounds.

“There was a sense of security when he was the prime minister in charge of the country,” he said. “I really supported him, so it was very sad.”

Abe, who became one of the most influential politicians after the war in Japan, ruled the country for nearly eight years before he announced in August 2020 that he would resign due to his health.

“Abe is the face of government,” Jeffrey Hall, a Japanese politics expert at Kanda University of International Studies, told Al Jazeera from Tokyo. “For eight years, he was there. He had a vision of Japan. A vision of a country that will be more proactive in global affairs, [and] more proactive in security, and seeks to achieve this by building many strong personal relationships with world leaders. ”

People line up to offer flowers and pray to Shinzo Abe who was killed on Friday
Abe is Japan’s longest -serving prime minister and influential even after his resignation for health reasons in 2020 [Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo]

The corpse carrying Abe’s body began driving around central Tokyo, passing major political landmarks such as the parliament building where Abe became a legislator in 1993, following a funeral attended by close family and friends. friend.

Since Abe’s death, salutes have poured in from international leaders, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stopping on the way to the United States from Southeast Asia on Monday morning to pay his respects.

Blinken said Abe had “more than anyone taken the relationship between the United States and Japan to new heights”.

French President Emmanuel Macron sent his condolences on footage posted on the country’s official presidential Twitter account after he visited the Japanese embassy in Paris.

“I remember all our meetings and cooperation, especially during my visit [to Japan] in 2019… I lost a friend, ”said a solemn Macron.

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

Mourners pray and leave white flowers for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Mourners pray for Abe at the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo. He was shot by a man with a homemade gun at a campaign event on Friday [Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the Japanese government had received more than 1,700 messages of condolence from a total of 259 countries, regions and international institutions following the killing.

“I have rediscovered the great success that former Prime Minister Abe left in diplomacy,” Hayashi said at a news conference.

The alleged killer, arrested at the scene and identified by police as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, believes Abe promoted a religious group to which his mother made a “huge donation”, the report said. Kyodo news agency, citing investigators.

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

Yamagami shot Abe from behind with a 40cm-long (16 inches) weapon loaded with plastic pellets, according to Kyodo.

He told investigators he watched tutorials on YouTube to learn how to make guns, the news agency reported Tuesday.

People stand on the street outside Japan's parliament as the corpse carrying Shinzo Abe's body passes by
Guards watch as people watch the corpse carrying Abe’s body in front of Japan’s parliament after his funeral in Tokyo [Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]