Decision takes into account condolences expressed in Japan, overseas

The decision was probably made because of the huge impact of the attack on the former prime minister, who was shot while giving a speech, and the fact that many people both inside and outside the country have been mourning his death. It is hoped that the send-off will be peaceful.

The government has decided to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this autumn. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a press conference that by holding a state funeral, Japan “will demonstrate its determination to do everything to firmly protect democracy.”

It will be the second state funeral for a former prime minister since the end of World War II. The first was for Shigeru Yoshida in 1967. The government will cover the full cost of the ceremony.

There are no legal provisions regarding funeral rites for former prime ministers.

For example, the cost of Eisaku Sato’s funeral was covered by the Cabinet, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and public donations. Recently, funerals for former prime ministers have been jointly organized by the Cabinet and the LDP, such as the 2020 ceremony for Yasuhiro Nakasone. The about ¥200 million spent on Nakasone’s funeral was shared equally between the government and the LDP.

According to the Foreign Ministry, more than 1,700 condolence messages for Abe have been sent from 260 countries, regions and organizations. A countless number of countries and organizations have flown flags at half-mast.

This may be partly due to the fact that until a few years ago Abe was at the forefront of diplomacy as prime minister.

As many foreign leaders and dignitaries are likely to attend the state funeral, it will also serve as an important occasion for the nation’s diplomacy. The government’s position of assuming responsibility for holding the ceremony as a national event is understandable.

There is still no end to the number of people laying flowers at the site where Abe was fatally shot in Nara. Many members of the public also visited the Tokyo temple where Abe’s private wake and funeral were held.

Some people may object to the government’s decision to organize a state funeral, the highest honor the nation can bestow upon a person posthumously. But how would Japan be viewed by the international community if there was controversy in the country over how to mourn the death of the former prime minister whose life was abruptly taken? His bereaved family would not want to see such a situation.

To avoid unnecessary friction, the government should provide detailed explanations about the state funeral, such as the size of the ceremony and how it will be conducted. It is also important to ensure transparency of expenditures.

When funerals of former prime ministers were held in the past, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry sent notices to national universities and other institutions urging them to express their condolences. Some people in education, among others, have spoken out against the notices, saying it should not be mandatory to express condolences in such circumstances.

The notices were probably not intended to be coercive. Even so, the ministry should not do anything that will cause an unnecessary backlash this time.

Regarding the fatal shooting, there is no hiding the fact that the failures of the police will go down in the nation’s postwar history. There is no room for error at the state funeral. The government must establish comprehensive measures for the security and protection of dignitaries at the ceremony.