Japan honors ex-PM Abe with highest decoration, vigil held in Tokyo

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Japan’s government on Monday honored former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead in the western city of Nara on Friday, with the Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the country’s highest decoration.

A wake was held later Monday for Abe, the longest-serving leader, at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo, attended by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other lawmakers. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who is visiting Japan, also attended the ceremony, a Treasury official said.

A photo of the late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is placed on a stand at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo on July 11, 2022. (Kyodo)

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako sent flowers and sent a chamberlain to burn incense during the wake, according to Kenji Ikeda, vice grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency.

A total of about 2,500 people, including members of the public, attended the wake, according to the Liberal Democratic Party faction led by Abe. Among those seen at the vigil were prominent business leaders and ambassadors, including US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin.

Abe is the fourth former prime minister to receive the decoration under the post-war Constitution, after Shigeru Yoshida, Eisaku Sato and Yasuhiro Nakasone, and was also honored with the court’s first junior rank, the Cabinet Office said.

Ikeda told a press conference that he suspected the Imperial couple felt extremely sorry and heartbroken by Abe’s death, and concerned for the bereaved family.

Abe was in office when the Emperor ascended the throne in 2019 following the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito.

The Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum is made of pure gold and is worn by the Japanese Emperor. It has been awarded to several visiting foreign heads of state in the past.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (front) visits the Zojoji Temple in Tokyo on July 11, 2022, to attend a night vigil in honor of the late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Kyodo)

Abe’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Tokyo temple. Separate memorial services will later be held in Tokyo and Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan, where Abe had a constituency.

Meanwhile, former US President Donald Trump has reportedly said he plans to attend the funeral of his former Japanese counterpart.

Trump told US online news site Breitbart he was in talks with the Abe family about the visit, adding that the former prime minister was the first foreign leader to meet him after winning the presidential election. American in 2016.

“He came right after the election — he was the first person I saw” as president-elect, Trump said, according to Breitbart. “But we had a special relationship. We’ll see that, we’re talking about it right now.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that at Kishida’s request, the Japanese flag will be flown at half-mast for Abe until Tuesday at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo.


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The Japanese flag flies halfway in the Japanese Prime Minister’s office building in Tokyo on July 11, 2022, following the shooting death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Kyodo)

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