The official funeral for Shinzo Abe has divided Japan, but why? Here is all you need to know.

Japan is divided over a rare public funeral for Shinzo Abe, the former prime leader who was killed in July. The governing party’s strong relationships with the ultra-conservative Unification Church have stoked most of the opposition to the burial despite the fact that the hawkish Abe was one of the country’s most contentious postwar presidents.

A near-constant political backlash against Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stems from the way he handled both the church connections among his party’s MPs and the state burial he believes Abe merits. Here are some of the causes of the outrage surrounding the state burial on Tuesday:

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The custom has its origins in a ceremony the emperor held to recognise those who had made particularly noteworthy contributions to the nation.

Before World War II, the emperor was venerated as a deity, and it was required for mourning to be observed by the people for those who received state burial. Most members of the royal family had state burial, but political and military leaders were also honoured, notably Isoroku Yamamoto, who oversaw Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and passed away in 1943. After the war, the state funeral statute was repealed.

Shigeru Yoshida, who signed the San Francisco Treaty ending the US occupation of Japan and reestablishing relations with the Allies, had the only other state funeral for a political leader in Japan since that time in 1967.

Subsequent governments curtailed such celebrations in response to complaints that the Yoshida funeral was held without a permit. Junichi Miyama, a historian at Chuo University, stated that “a state funeral is in opposition to the spirit of democracy.”


The longest-serving leader in modern Japanese political history, Abe is deserving of a state funeral, according to Kishida, because of his diplomatic, security, and economic initiatives that raised Japan’s standing abroad. In light of Abe’s murder during an election campaign, Kishida asserts that Japan must demonstrate its resolve never to give in to “violence against democracy.”

Political observers claim Kishida’s decision to organise a state burial for Abe is an effort to win over MPs from Abe’s conservative political party in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and strengthen his own grasp on power.

The burial, according to Koichi Nakano, a professor of international politics at Sophia University, is an effort to discredit Abe’s legacy and hide problems with the Unification Church. The church is accused of using unethical hiring practises and commercial strategies, but disputes the accusations.


The absence of a clear legal foundation and the Kishida Cabinet’s unilateral decision to perform the burial are among the arguments made by opponents who claim it is undemocratic.

Abe’s detractors point to his efforts to downplay Japan’s horrors during the war, his advocacy for more military expenditure, his regressive view of gender roles, and a leadership that was viewed as dictatorial and pro-cronyism.

The number of protests at the burial has risen as more information regarding Abe’s and LDP MPs’ affiliation with the Unification Church has come to light. Due to their mutual support for conservative issues, the South Korean church and LDP legislators have developed tight connections.

According to reports, Abe’s killer was furious because of connections between Abe, his party, and the church, which he said his mother had donated all of the family’s wealth to.

Abe is now recognised as a crucial player in the controversy. His grandfather, the previous leader Nobusuke Kishi, assisted the church in Japan by establishing itself there. The conduct of a formal burial for Abe, according to opponents, is equal to endorsing party connections to the Unification Church.

A group of attorneys attempted to halt the funeral by filing a lawsuit, but it was allegedly dropped on Monday. Additionally, a senior citizen who appeared to be protesting the burial lit himself on fire close to the prime minister’s office.


The venue, security, travel, and lodging for the visitors would cost about 1.7 billion yen ($11.8 million), according to the government. Tax money, according to opponents, should be utilised to alleviate the growing economic imbalances brought on by Abe’s policies, among other more worthwhile purposes.


Since taking office a year ago, Kishida has had consistent popular support, and his election victory in July appears to have given him the ability to reign for up to three years.

But as a result of his management of the official burial and his ruling party’s ties to the South Korean church, his popularity ratings have since plummeted.

Nearly half of its legislators, according to an LDP study, had connections to the church. Although Kishida has vowed to maintain all links, many Japanese are nonetheless curious about how the church could have affected party positions.

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Along with the leaders of Australia, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore, US Vice President Kamala Harris will also be there. According to Kishida, the occasion would provide him a chance to practise “funeral diplomacy”.

The government reported this week that 4,300 attendees—less than the 6,000 invited—included foreign dignitaries, Japanese politicians, local officials, and representatives from industry, culture, and other fields.

The Japanese Communist Party and the major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan are among the groups boycotting the burial.


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