Preparation of proceeds from Abe’s state funeral amid growing public opposition – The Diplomat

Preparations for the state funeral of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, organized by the Japanese government, are underway. The Sankei News, a conservative outlet, reported that the Kishida government expects to host around 6,000 people at the Nippon Budokan, a multi-purpose arena used as a venue for everything from musical performances to sporting events. The scale and location of the state funeral is likely to be similar to that of former Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru – the last state funeral to take place, in 1967.

The state funeral has a national side, providing the nation with an opportunity to mourn the death and commemorate Abe’s legacy as a whole. But it also has a diplomatic aspect. Reports suggest Prime Minister Kishida Fumio is using the state funeral as an opportunity to invite world leaders, tapping into Abe’s legacy of shuttle diplomacy around the world. Kishida may be motivated to use this as an opportunity for “funeral diplomacy”, giving him a chance to converse with leaders from around the world, who are all coming to Japan at the same time to pay their respects to the late Abe.

On July 22, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release announcing the establishment of the “Secretariat for the Preparation of the State Funeral of the Late Prime Minister Abe Shinzo”, a department within the ministry which would “ensure seamless reception, etc., of foreign attendees to state funeral.”

It seems that the newly created secretariat is doing its job by inviting current and former famous heads of state to the state funerals. Of In Europe, it has been reported that French President Emmanuel Macron and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel plan to attend Abe’s funeral. From United StatesJapan’s closest ally, former US President Barack Obama and current Vice President Kamala Harris are adjusting their schedules to attend.

Even if, in a sense, the state funeral goes off without a hitch, given that world leaders are expected, there is a problem: the Japanese public is increasingly bitter about the idea.

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Immediately after the government’s decision to hold a state funeral, polls indicated that the numbers of those who approved and disapproved were evenly split. Now, those who oppose the organization of state funerals are beginning to form a clear majority. A survey of Kyodo News July 31 detailed that 53.3% of the public disapproved of the state funeral, while 45.1% approved. Another poll from NHK updated August 8 found that the number of people who disapproved of the state funeral stood at 50%, while 36% approved.

Also worrying for Kishida, who decided to hold the state funeral in part to keep a grip on his conservative base, is that the moderate and liberal wings of his Liberal Democratic Party are beginning to show their unease with her decision. According JNNaround 30% of LDP-affiliated voters do not approve of a state funeral, as do the vast majority of opposition party supporters, implying that a bipartisan opposition front is beginning to unfold.

Two factors help explain the change in public attitude towards state funerals in a relatively short time. One is the fact that the audience isn’t entirely sold on the case Kishida is trying to make. To explain his decision, Kishida alluded to the section of the Cabinet Office Right of establishment. He cited part of the law stating that the Cabinet office has the power to make decisions on “matters relating to state ceremonies and matters relating to ceremonies and events organized by the Cabinet” as the legal basis for funerals. of state.

Nevertheless, the case where a state funeral – which should include the conditions of its holding, as well as other specific instructions – is included in the term “state ceremonies” seems exaggerated, a concern expressed by the Tokyo Bar Association. Moreover, the fact that Kishida made his decision unilaterally, bypassing the deliberations of the Japanese Diet, may have left the majority of the public skeptical. Therefore, the weak legal basis and lack of persuasion by the government may have left the public disenchanted with Kishida.

Another factor could be attributed to growing opposition to Kishida’s government in general. This creates a mood where the public is fundamentally against most of Kishida’s policies, including the state funeral. Due to the record number of COVID-19 cases every day and numerous media reports of the LDP’s questionable relationship with the Unification Church, Kishida’s approval rating fell to his the lowest level since he became prime minister. The public’s deep disappointment with Kishida’s handling of these issues was reinforced by the fact that Kishida’s scoring did not check after reorganizing his cabinet. Therefore, in this environment, it may be difficult for Kishida to get the public on his side at Abe’s state funeral, an issue that has been controversial before.

In the final month leading up to Abe’s state funeral on September 27, Kishida’s mission should be to engage with opposition parties and, more importantly, the general public. Otherwise, he could face an embarrassing situation where protesters surround the Nippon Budokan in the presence of international leaders. However, time is limited and given the difficulties Kishida faces in domestic politics, the public’s increasingly negative view of the state funeral could further exacerbate his woes.

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