Many foreign dignitaries expected to attend Abe’s state funeral

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Police officers stand guard at JR Tokyo Station on Tuesday.

The state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday will be attended by dignitaries from countries that support Abe’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific initiative, including Britain’s former Prime Minister Theresa May and Australia’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his willingness to hold talks before and after the funeral.

“I will do my best to be courteous to the foreign dignitaries and to increase the confidence they have in our country,” Kishida said at a press conference in New York on Thursday.

The government announced Friday that Kishida will meet with the leaders of nine countries and the representatives of an international organization, all of whom are set to attend the funeral, on Monday. He is also set to have dinner with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on the same day.

While Abe was prime minister, he promoted the Free and Open Indo-Pacific initiative, while keeping China’s rise in mind, and sought to strengthen ties with the Group of Seven nations, Australia, India and other countries.

Three former Australian prime ministers, including Turnbull, and current Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will attend the funeral. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are also set to attend.

China, which has been the focus of much attention, will send Wan Gang, vice-chairperson of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Wan is not a member of the Communist Party and is of lower rank than Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, who attended the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The choice is likely based on the fact that Abe was not the prime minister at the time of his death.

Taiwan will send Su Jia-chyuan, chairperson of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association. Taiwan has decided not to send the current premier or other senior officials, apparently to avoid possible backlash from China. Su is a prominent figure in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), having served as president of the legislative Yuan, and is close to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Mikhail Shvydkoy, special representative of Russian President on international cultural cooperation, will serve as the representative for Russia at the funeral.

Maximum alert

On Tuesday, the day of the funeral, the Metropolitan Police Department will be on maximum alert. The MPD will set up a high-security headquarters headed by MPD Superintendent General Yoshihiko Oishi.