Some protesters have complained the funeral is a waste of money. [Photo Credit: Australia Broadcasting Corporation News]
A lavish, star-studded funeral for former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July, will be held later today.
But the event, which is costing Japanese taxpayers nearly $AUD17 million, has revealed deep divisions over the politician’s legacy.
Abe was shot in the back by a man armed with a homemade gun as he delivered a campaign speech in Nara on July 8.
The man held a grudge against the former prime minister because of his links to a mysterious church that has a reputation for aggressively pressuring or coercing large donations from its supporters and members.
Since the assassination, the public appeal has shifted sharply against the church and parts of Japan’s elite that have connections to the group, particularly after media revealed the alleged gunman’s family was bankrupted some 20 years prior due to such donations.
The state funeral for Abe is now so controversial that last week a man set himself on fire in Tokyo as a form of protest.
Despite polls showing a majority of Japanese voters disapprove of the state funeral, the event is going ahead at 3pm AEST.
The funeral will be held at the Nippon Budokan, an iconic indoor arena in Tokyo that can seat more than 14,000 people.
Abe served as Japan’s PM for a year in 2006, and again from 2012 to 2020, so he forged many connections with other world leaders.
Approximately 6,400 people are expected to attend the service, including dignitaries from 190 countries.
Among the world leaders on the guest list are US Vice-President Kamala Harris and Indian PM Narendra Modi.