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Japan mourns ex-Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo

#Japan #mourns #exPrime #Minister #Abe #Tokyo

Family and friends of assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gathered at a Tokyo temple for a private funeral Tuesday as mourners outside condemned the leader’s “despicable” murder.

Abe was shot dead at point blank range while delivering a campaign speech in the city of Nara on Friday, days before the upper house election in which his ruling party consolidated its hold on power.

The murder suspect, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, is in custody and has told police he targeted Abe because he believed the politician had ties to an organization he opposed.

Although the funeral rites were only for family members and close associates, long lines of people, some dressed in black, descended on Zojoji Temple to pay their respects to Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

“I can’t get over my sadness, so I came here to lay flowers and say a prayer,” 41-year-old adviser Tsukasa Yokawa told AFP, describing Abe as “a great prime minister who did a lot for Japan’s sake.” strengthen presence”. the global stage.

“It’s despicable,” said Yuko Takehisa, a 51-year-old auxiliary nurse who lives in Kanagawa, near Tokyo.

“More could have been done to prevent this,” she said, complaining that “nobody” reported Yamagami to the police, despite reports that he had fired a hand-made weapon before the attack.

Satoshi Ninoyu, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, a cabinet position that oversees the national police force, vowed Tuesday to conduct a full review of any safety deficiencies.

Local police have already admitted flaws in their surveillance program for the high-profile politician, who was hit from behind and shot dead in broad daylight.

Police searches at the suspect’s home found buckshot and other possible components needed to build a weapon like the crude weapon used in the attack, Japanese media reported Tuesday, citing unnamed investigative sources.

– condolences in torrents –

Yamagami spent three years in the Japanese Navy and reportedly told investigators that his mother’s large donations to a religious organization caused the family financial problems.

The Unification Church, a global religious movement founded in Korea in the 1950s, said Monday that Yamagami’s mother is a member but did not comment on any donations she may have made.

Abe’s assassination provoked shock and outrage and a flood of condolences in Japan and around the world.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Tuesday that more than 1,700 letters of condolence had been received from 259 countries, territories and international organizations.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a previously unscheduled stop in Tokyo to honor Abe and describe him as a “man of vision.”

And Taiwan Vice President William Lai was also in Tokyo for a surprise trip, Taiwanese media reported.

The visit has the potential to anger Beijing, although Hayashi said Lai was traveling in a private capacity and there has been no change in Japan’s policy on working with non-governmental relations with Taiwan.

After Tuesday’s funeral, Abe’s body will be wheeled past some of Tokyo’s political landmarks, including the prime minister’s residence – known as Kantei – and the country’s parliament, the Diet.

Public commemorations are expected to be held at a later date, with suggestions that senior foreign politicians could attend, but no details have been announced yet.

Born into a political family, Abe became the country’s youngest post-war prime minister, first taking power in 2006 at the age of 52.

He retired in 2020 after the end of his second stint after health problems.

His hawkish, nationalist views were divisive, particularly his desire to reform the pacifist constitution, and he weathered a series of scandals, including allegations of nepotism.

But he has been lauded by others for his economic strategy, dubbed “Abenomics,” and his efforts to firmly place Japan on the world stage, including through cultivating close ties with former US President Donald Trump.

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