DUBAI/TOKYO: Japan began a controversial state funeral for assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, with his widow Akie carrying his ashes into a Tokyo hall where thousands of mourners gathered.
Dressed in a black kimono, Akie carried the ashes in a box covered with a decorative fabric into the Budokan venue as a 19-gun salute sounded in honour of the slain ex-premier.
More than 700 foreign guests and over 40 state leaders were expected at the state funeral today.
Dignitaries include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, US Vice President Kamala Harris, India’s PM Narendra Modi, Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Philippines Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, Indonesia Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, and European Council President Charles Michel.
The streets of Budokan where the state funeral will take place have been closed since early morning, and according to sources, many police officers from other parts of Japan are present.
Mourners have already started queuing pay their respects to Abe, at a sectioned area that has been set up near the Budokan funeral hall venue for members of the public to leave flowers and tributes.
The funeral is stated to have cost 1.65 billion yen (or about $11.4 million) with many Japanese opposed to the state event.
On Monday, around 10,000 protestors marched through the streets of Tokyo demanding the funeral be called off.
– with AFP