“Thank you for your work !” : Japan bows in a dark farewell to Shinzo Abe

TOKYO, July 12 (Reuters) – With prayers, flowers and flags draped in black ribbons, Japan bid farewell on Tuesday to Shinzo Abe, a polarizing figure who dominated politics as the country’s longest-serving prime minister. country, before being shot dead during an election rally. Last week.

Crowds filled the sidewalks lined with a heavy police presence as the hearse carrying Abe, who died at 67, departed from a temple in central Tokyo for a procession through the city.

With nearly a dozen helicopters circling overhead, people bowed low, hands clasped in prayer, as the hearse passed in a procession broadcast live on the NHK television channel. Others clapped, clapped, or waved.

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“Thank you very much for your work for our country!” shouted a man several times.

Hundreds of people had gathered at the temple where Abe’s funeral was held on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, ahead of the private ceremony, to pay their respects. His killing on Friday by an unemployed man wielding a homemade weapon stunned a nation where gun crime and political violence are extremely rare. Read more

The funeral procession passed through the political heart of the capital, Nagatacho, where hundreds of people had lined up outside the parliament building. Abe first entered as a young lawmaker in 1993, after the death of his politician father.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and a group of ministers waited quietly outside the office from which Abe ruled the country for two terms, the longest from 2012 to 2020.

As the hearse slowly passed, Kishida lowered his head, a Buddhist prayer beads wrapped around his clasped hands. Abe’s widow, Akie, reclined from the front seat of the hearse.


From early morning, long lines of people dressed in black, mingling with others wearing informal clothes with backpacks, formed outside the temple.

Keiko Noumi, a 58-year-old teacher, was one of many who came to offer prayers and flowers to a large photograph of Abe installed inside the temple grounds showing him wearing a simple white shirt , laughing hands on hips.

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

Others lined up outside the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters to make offerings at a makeshift shrine that will be in place until Friday. Party staff members come out to offer cold barley tea to mourners sweating in the stuffy air.

Tributes poured in from international leaders, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken making a brief stopover en route to the United States from Southeast Asia on Monday morning to pay their respects. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Taiwanese Vice President William Lai, on a private visit as a friend of the family, also joined the mourners. Read more

Nearly 2,000 condolence messages have arrived from countries around the world, Kyodo news agency said.


French leader Emmanuel Macron sent his condolences in images posted to the country’s official presidential Twitter account after his visit to the Japanese Embassy in Paris.

“I remember all our meetings and our work together, especially during my visit (to Japan) in 2019… I lost a friend”, declared a solemn Macron.

“He served his country with great courage and audacity.”

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

The Unification Church, known for its mass marriages and worshipers, said on Monday that the suspect’s mother was one of its members. Reuters could not determine if the mother belonged to other religious organizations. Read more

Yamagami fired at Abe from behind, discharging two rounds from a 40 cm-long (16 in) improvised weapon wrapped in black duct tape. Read more

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference on Tuesday that the Japanese government would consider whether there was a need for further regulation of homemade firearms.

“We are aware that the current regulations strictly limit firearms, whether homemade or not,” he said.

Satoshi Ninoyu, head of the National Public Security Commission, told a press conference on Tuesday that he had ordered the establishment of a team to investigate the security situation surrounding Abe’s assassination.

“We take this incident very seriously,” he said.

A farewell ceremony was to be held in Abe’s constituency in the remote southwestern prefecture of Yamaguchi, as well as in Tokyo in the future, the Mainichi newspaper said.

In the streets of the capital, the mourning of Japan continues.

“He was my favorite prime minister,” said Akihito Sakaki, 58 and an independent. “So I came here to say goodbye.”

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Additional reporting by Akiko Okamoto, Kohei Miyazaki, Yoshifumi Takemoto, Ju-min Park, Mariko Katsumura, Sakura Murakami and Chang-Ran Kim; Written by Elaine Lies; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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Maria D. Ervin