The government opted not to hold an appropriate ceremony to quietly mourn for a former prime minister who was tragically assassinated during an election campaign.

Instead, it forcibly staged a hotly disputed state funeral that deepened a divide in society and created future problems for democracy in Japan.

For marching ahead with his decision, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida deserves to have his responsibility questioned and scrutinized.

The state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took place on Sept. 27, attended by more than 4,000 people from Japan and abroad.

At the venue, many people started arriving from the early morning to stand in line before tables that were set up for the public to place their offerings of flowers. Elsewhere, protest rallies and marches took place around the nation.

For funerals of former prime ministers, the established custom has been for the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to co-host them.

And that was the case even for former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, whose long-lived administration lasted for about five years.

Had the same been done for Abe, the public's objection would likely have been less strident, but Kisihida chose the state funeral format, the sole precedent of which had been held more than half a century ago for former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida.

Also, the legal foundation on which Kishida based his choice was uncertain at best.

Before World War II, the 1926 imperial edict concerning state funerals allowed the emperor to invoke his imperial prerogative in awarding a state funeral to individuals who served the nation exceptionally well.

Under the postwar democratic system, sovereignty has been transferred from the emperor to the people, meaning that the latter get to decide on whether to hold a state funeral or not.

And yet, Kishida single-handedly decided to give Abe a state funeral without even bothering to obtain the approval of the people's elected representatives in the Diet.

It is a fact that Abe, with his administration that lasted for eight years and eight months, became the longest-serving prime minister in the history of constitutional government in Japan.

However, his achievements were open to debate, and his reputation is a mixed bag.

His "negative legacies" include his high-handed and arbitrary style of Diet management and refusal to take his accountability seriously, as well as his involvement in scandals related to Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution and his annual cherry blossom viewing parties for his supporters.

If Kishida failed to notice negative public opinion regarding a state funeral because he was so focused on consolidating his administration's support base by wooing pro-Abe conservatives within and outside the LDP, then he has only himself to blame for the criticism that he acted as if he alone were entitled to plan Abe's funeral.

In his eulogy, Kishida lauded the Abe administration's achievements in the fields of national security and diplomacy, citing his security legislation that opened the way to Japan's partial exercise of its right to collective security, as well as the enactment of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets.

But it was by the sheer force of numbers under his control that these laws survived the public's staunch opposition.

We want to stress anew that the state funeral must never be allowed to become a tool for "reaffirming" Abe's achievements and muzzling free debate.

Popular opposition to the state funeral grew over time. There is no question that this resulted from a spate of revelations of the close ties between many LDP politicians and the former Unification Church, with Abe seen to have played a key role.

Leaving people's many questions and worries unaddressed, the funeral was conducted as planned, widening not only a rift in society but also that between the public and the political community.

Now, only Kishida can lead the way in narrowing those gaps and regaining the people's trust in their elected representatives.

The extraordinary Diet session that starts next week will be a crucial test of his leadership.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 28

QOSHE - EDITORIAL: Kishida widens rift in society by staging state funeral for Abe - The Asahi Shimbun
We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

EDITORIAL: Kishida widens rift in society by staging state funeral for Abe

18 0 0
28.09.2022

The government opted not to hold an appropriate ceremony to quietly mourn for a former prime minister who was tragically assassinated during an election campaign.

Instead, it forcibly staged a hotly disputed state funeral that deepened a divide in society and created future problems for democracy in Japan.

For marching ahead with his decision, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida deserves to have his responsibility questioned and scrutinized.

The state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took place on Sept. 27, attended by more than 4,000 people from Japan and abroad.

At the venue, many people started arriving from the early morning to stand in line before tables that were set up for the public to place their offerings of flowers. Elsewhere, protest rallies and marches took place around the nation.

For funerals of former prime ministers, the established custom has been for the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to co-host them.

And that was the case even for former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, whose........

© The Asahi Shimbun


Get it on Google Play