July 13, 2022
TOKYO – Family members and people close to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended his funeral at a Buddhist temple in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was among those present at Zojoji in Minato Ward, while the sidewalks around the temple were filled with members of the public who had gathered to pay a final tribute to Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.
A farewell ceremony will be held at a later date.
Abe was shot dead Friday while delivering a campaign speech in Nara for a candidate in Sunday’s upper house election.
After the funeral, the hearse carrying Abe’s body drove through the Nagatacho district where Abe spent his political life, passing by the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Diet Building. At each of these places, officials and staff lined up to offer their tributes to the passing vehicle. Abe’s wife, Akie, bowed while seated in the passenger’s seat.
During the vehicle’s brief stop at the Prime Minister’s Office, where Abe served as prime minister for a record total of 3,188 days, Kishida was among the crowd that stood in front of the building and bowed toward the vehicle.
The wake at the temple on Monday evening was attended by about 2,500 people from around the word, from Kishida to visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and LDP officials such as Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi.
The LDP placed at its headquarters on Monday a condolence book for the public that will remain through Friday.
A stand with a photo of a smiling Abe was set up on the grounds of the temple for members of the public to place flowers. Visitors on Monday included families with young children and businesspeople. They offered prayers and some shed tears.
“I feel a painful sense of loss as his death was so sudden and unexpected,” said a 72-year-old from Ota Ward, Tokyo, after paying his respects on Monday evening.
He said he first met Abe about 30 years ago when he was working for an automobile dealership. He was introduced by Abe’s secretary and recommended a luxury domestic car to Abe.
“I told him, ‘This car is sturdy,” he said, recalling that Abe then laughed and said, “That’s great.” Abe bought the car and the two had kept in touch since then.
“In the political realm, he spoke bluntly,” said the man, who currently works as an insurance agent. “But in daily life, he was a soft-spoken, gentle person.”