A portrait of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hangs above the stage during his state funeral at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, 27 September 2022.

Hundreds of Japanese bid final goodbye to Abe with flowers

Tokyo, Sep 27 (EFE).- Hundreds of people in Japan visited Tokyo’s Kudanzaka Park on Tuesday to offer flowers in memory of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as he is given a state funeral.

Abe, who served as prime minister for the longest period in post-war Japan, died at the age of 67 on Jul.8 after being shot during a rally.

People began to form queues several hours before the opening of the two booths with Abe’s picture for placing offerings inside the park, near the Nippon Budokan arena where more than 4,000 people attend the funeral for Abe organized by the government.

The first mourners began making their offerings at 9.30am, half an hour before the opening time for paying tribute, open to the public until 4pm.

One of the first to make floral offerings was Yoshihiro Hayasaka, a 53-year-old from Tokyo, who stood in line for two hours to offer his “respect and condolences as a citizen for a prime minister who worked for the country and died in these circumstances,” he told EFE.

The urn containing former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ashes are displayed on stage during his state funeral at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, 27 September 2022. EFE/EPA/TAKASHI AOYAMA / POOL

The area around the park was closed to avoid disturbances, as several protesters came calling for the cancellation of both – the funeral and the offerings.

“Using our taxes for the funeral of a person like Abe is something I oppose,” Koji Sugihara, 56, told EFE.

Abe’s state funeral has a budget of over $11.5 million from the public coffers, which he said could be used for other causes instead of honoring a single politician who was also a very polarizing figure in the country.

Sugihara was aware that canceling the event was not actually going to happen, but insisted on the importance of “raising one’s voice without giving up” to convey the message and opposition of a large section of the people to Abe’s state funeral.

Several demonstrations were called for Tuesday, before and even during the funeral.

Protesters holding placards reading ‘No!! State funeral’ raise their fists during a rally against the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan, 27 September 2022.  EFE/EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

“I understand that there are many opinions, but I believe that Prime Minister Abe’s contributions to the country were many and for that I have come to offer my condolences,” Hayasaka said.

“I don’t know another prime minister who has been so recognized internationally,” said Hayasaka, who also praised the economic progress under Abe.

“This is the only way I could express my gratitude,” he added after offering flowers. EFE