Controversial State Funeral for Assassinated Ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

by Emma Jia ’25

Source: New York Times

Published Nov. 25th, 2022

A state funeral was recently held for Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Both citizens and world leaders attended to pay their respects. However, controversy remains about the legacy of their late-leader, as well as the timing and meaning of the funeral.

When the story of Abe’s assassinator, Tetsuya Yamagami, came out to the public, the close ties between the Unification Church and the Liberal Democratic Party were exposed. Additionally, Yamagami claimed, the Unification Church had scammed his mother and several others for financial gain.

These ideas had never been publicized before. Professor at Kanda University of International Studies, Jeffery J. Hall, comments, “The assassination is directly responsible for shining a light on the dark area of cooperation between the Unification Church and the LDP.”

These connections between the church and many government officials, however, were not the only controversies that Abe had had held against him. In fact, one of his biggest sources of criticism was the way he handled the early days of the coronavirus. 

Despite his accomplishments with jumpstarting Japan’s suffering economy and improving relations with the US, many still gathered in Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo to protest the decision of giving him a state funeral.

While thousands mourned, another thousand protested. One protestor said, “What Abe did, what he stood for, everybody he hurt — it is not OK.” Others shared how they believed the funeral was a waste of tax money, especially in a time of economic strain. As another protestor puts it, “It was a tragedy that Abe was gunned down and lost his life, but we shouldn’t make him a hero out of this tragedy.”

Using this time of worldwide attention, protestors are speaking out about the many problems in Japan. Whether change will or will not occur is still in question, but it is clear that the controversial legacy of Shinzo Abe will continue to influence Japanese politics.

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