Live Updates: Abe Shinzo State Funeral

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Analysis: State funerals are a symbol of division, not unity

Here is the latest analysis from NHK World senior commentator Masuda Tsuyoshi:

Public opinion is divided over former Prime Minister Abe’s state funeral. Opinions are not balanced, with opposition far outweighing support. An NHK opinion poll this month showed 32% of respondents approved of the plan, while 57% disagreed. Polls from other media have found similar results, if not wider margins.

Kishida’s cabinet approval rating also plummeted, likely in response to the funeral. The NHK poll showed 40% of those polled said they supported the Cabinet, down 6 points from last month. And 40% said they did not support it, an increase of 12 points. The approval rating was the lowest since Kishida took office a year ago.

Sentiment soured because the government’s explanation of the reasons for the funeral failed to win public understanding. Kishida cited four reasons for the ceremony.

Abe served as prime minister for eight years and eight months, the longest in the history of Japanese constitutional government. He has made significant achievements in domestic and foreign affairs. It has received praise from the international community. His death came from a sudden and barbaric act in the middle of an election, the foundation of democracy.

But such an assessment is not absolute. The factors can change suddenly, depending on the international climate and the political situation here at home.

The leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, Izumi Kenta, points out that former Prime Minister Sato Eisaku was Japan’s longest-serving post-war prime minister when he died. Additionally, Sato was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But he didn’t have a state funeral.

Kishida announced the funeral plans just six days after Abe’s death, and the Cabinet quickly approved it. The Diet did not participate in the decision, although it represents the people. Kishida did not explain the matter to the Diet for nearly two months. These are some of the questions behind the public criticism.

The main opposition party reacted angrily and its leadership decided to skip the ceremony. Former prime ministers Kan Naoto and Hatoyama Yukio will not attend.

Even as the funeral unfolds, groups of citizens are organizing protest rallies and demonstrations, pointing out that the state funeral has become a symbol of national division rather than unity.

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