Japan bid farewell to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in an elaborate state funeral Tuesday, despite public opposition to the cost of the event as the country grapples with their late leader’s legacy.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot dead during a campaign speech in Nara in July, stunning a nation where gun violence is extremely rare.
More than 4,300 guests attended the service at the Nippon Budokan Arena in Tokyo, including foreign dignitaries such as US Vice President Kamala Harris, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Abe’s ashes were carried into the venue, where the government played a video tribute honoring his life and career. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida then delivered a memorial address, praising Abe’s “courage” and dedication.
Other government figures including former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga – who was Abe’s right hand man for many years – also gave remarks, before attendees laid flower offerings and bowed in turn.
Other ceremonial rites on the program include an honor guard, gun salute, and musical performances, before a government reception for visiting foreign dignitaries.
Police ramped up security for the event, with public broadcaster NHK reporting that about 20,000 police officers were deployed to keep the peace. But altercations broke out anyway between police and demonstrators outside the funeral venue.