Editorial: State funeral decision for ex-PM Abe rushed, caution needed in next steps
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a recent press conference that “state funerals” will be held this fall for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead during an election campaign speech on July 8.
Large crowds attended Abe’s funeral wake after he was killed in the shocking attack, and a long line formed outside a flower offering stand set up at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters ). We understand that people need to be given the opportunity to express their condolences.
State funerals are entirely financed by state coffers. It should therefore be organized in such a way that many members of the public will accept it.
The State Funeral Law, which would have served as the legal basis for such an event, was abolished after Japan lost World War II. Since then, former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida has been the only person to receive a state funeral, in 1967. He was treated as “an exception” due to his work, including successfully bringing Japan back into the international community by signing the San Francisco Peace Treaty. .
Since the funeral of former Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira in 1980, the government and the LDP have become accustomed to splitting the funeral bill for those who have served as Prime Minister.
Kishida explained the reasons for Abe’s state funeral, including the fact that he was the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history, as well as his achievements in economic revitalization and diplomacy.
However, there are no laws or standards regarding state-funded funerals. If the decision were to be made based on the achievements of former prime ministers, the government in power at the time could arbitrarily arrange their funerals.
It has been less than two years since Abe resigned as prime minister and the assessment of his historical significance has not been determined, as he was also still a member of the House of Representatives when he died. Opposition parties say it should not be forgotten that Abe was a key figure in a falsification of public documents scandal and made false statements to the Diet.
Due to these circumstances, even some in government and the ruling coalition were saying the matter needed to be looked at carefully, not to mention that the investigation into the attack was ongoing. One cannot help but wonder if the state funeral should not have been decided after the situation had calmed down, taking into account public opinion.
For Shigeru Yoshida’s funeral, the Japanese government ordered all public offices, agencies and public schools to hold a minute’s silence and asked private companies to do the same, while asking people to refrain from organize events. Even then, opponents said these instructions and demands defeat the purpose of Japan’s Constitution, which emphasizes respect for individuals. This time, the autonomy of local governments and schools should be respected, and the government should not force them to comply with its decisions.
The important thing is to prepare an environment where the former Prime Minister can be expelled peacefully, while being respectful of his bereaved family. The Kishida government must respect the diverse opinions of the people, and this matter must be handled carefully so that it does not cause public division.