Politics

Japanese pay tribute to slain PM Shinzo Abe one year after assassination

Tokyo, Jul 8 (EFE).- Japan on Saturday paid tribute to Shinzo Abe, one of its most influential contemporary leaders, one year after his assassination during a rally, an incident that shocked the country and shone a spotlight on “Moon Sect” for being the motive of the alleged assassin, who is awaiting trial.

The longest-serving Japanese prime minister (2012-2020) died on July 8 last year after he was shot during an election rally in the street in the city of Nara, by a man who used a homemade gun and said he had a grudge against Abe for his alleged links to the Unification Church.

Hundreds of Japanese came to pay tribute to Abe at the Buddhist temple of Zojoji, where a private ceremony in Abe’s memory was held inside, attended by the current Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, relatives and friends of the former leader and other personalities from politics and various fields.

Long queues of citizens were waiting at the Zojoji temple, surrounded by a large police force, since before it opened at 1pm local time.

“Seeing his photos here today, a year after his death, I felt a deep sadness again,” Mika Hanakoshi, 40, told EFE. “His political motto was to make Japan a beautiful country, and he worked to achieve that in the truest sense.”

Nami Watanabe, 48, said Abe “was a true leader for Japan, who had his own ideas and was always looking for ways to make the country better.”

Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s successor, said he was “a politician who always looked to the future, with a very broad view of history and the nation. He left many political achievements, and also pending tasks that it is our responsibility to assume,” in statements to the state broadcaster NHK.

In addition to the event in Tokyo, many people also came out to pay tribute to Abe next to the station in Nara, western Japan, close to the spot where he was assassinated.

COMPLICATED LEGACY

Abe’s tenure in office and Japan’s greater projection abroad under his successive terms of office make him one of the most significant Japanese leaders in recent decades, although his conservative profile and several scandals and controversial policies also caused him to have many detractors domestically.

Added to that is the focus that his assassination put on the Unification Church. The man arrested for his murder, Tetsuya Yamagami, 42, is awaiting trial and said he attacked Abe out of a grudge against the sect, which he accuses of bankrupting his family through donations.

In the wake of the incident, the extensive and deep ties between the organization – which some some experts believe to be a cult – and the ruling party now led by Kishida came to light, forcing the prime minister to carry out a “clean-up” of his party amid plummeting public support. EFE

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