State funeral for slain ex-PM Shinzo Abe to cost $12m

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The state funeral for slain former prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, is going to cost $12m [or 1.7 billion yen], according to a government spokesperson.

The government had earlier said that it would reveal the cost of the funeral after the event but on Tuesday Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno announced the estimated amount of the state funeral to be about 1.7 billion yen ($12m) — which is a marked increase on the initial estimate of 250 million yen (approximately $1.76m) that the government had earmarked and approved in August.

Meanwhile, civic groups and opposition politicians in Japan have been expressing concern over using taxpayers’ money for the cost of the state funeral for Abe.

Jun Azumi, one of the leaders from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, criticised the government and said that the total amount of costs for Abe’s state funeral has “swelled” by more than six times the originally stated figure.

On Tuesday, the chief cabinet secretary told reporters that for the state funeral of the slain former prime minister, security is expected to cost around 800 million yen (approx. $5.6m), with another 600 million yen (approx $4.2m) to be spent on hosting. Mr Matsuno added that about 250 million yen ($1.76m) will go into the ceremony.

The state funeral is scheduled to be held on 27 September in Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan — an indoor arena located in Chiyoda in Tokyo. A private funeral has already taken place.

Abe was assassinated in July during a campaign trail in Nara, Japan. He served as prime minister of Japan for over eight years.

It is reported that some 6,000 people are expected to attend Abe’s state funeral.

Meanwhile, recent polls have shown that about half of Japanese voters oppose the publicly funded event, while only 38 per cent were in favour.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, trying to justify the state funeral of the former leader, said soon after Abe was assassinated that “he [Abe] has made significant achievements in various fields, including reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, revitalization of the Japanese economy, and development of diplomacy based on Japan-US relations” and is hence deserving of a state funeral.

Mr Kishida said that by conducting a state funeral for Abe, “Japan will show its determination not yield to violence and to resolutely defend democracy”.

Abe is going to be the second postwar prime minister after Shigeru Yoshida in 1967 to be honoured with a state funeral.