The decision to hold a state funeral for the assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe has dented the support the Japanese prime minister has, which has dropped to its lowest level ever. The prime minister acknowledged on Thursday that he has not adequately clarified his reasoning for this.
Public outrage over the possibility that ties between the ruling party and a church organization may have contributed to the assassination has led many people to oppose Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s decision to hold the funeral on September 27 and have the state pay for it.
“I humbly accept the criticism that my explanation was insufficient,” Kishida told members of parliament in response to questions about the issue.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving but divisive premier, was shot and killed at an election rally on July 8.
His suspected assassin, arrested at the scene moments after the killing, bore a grudge against the Unification Church, alleging it bankrupted his mother, and blamed Abe for promoting it.
A majority of members of the public feel links between the ruling party and the church, which was founded in South Korea in the 1950s and is famous for its mass weddings, have not been adequately explained.
Many voters are also sceptical that the political party will cut ties with the church, as Kishida has promised.
Kishida has said he decided to hold a state funeral given Abe’s contributions to the country and his achievements, which have been recognised at home and abroad.
But criticism of the funeral could increase as the cost has risen to $12 million, and is likely to rise even more.