Japanese Former Prime Minister Abe's State Funeral Begins

Japanese former prime minister Abe's state funeral begins

People in Japan are bidding a final farewell to the country's longest-serving prime minister at his state funeral. Abe Shinzo was shot and killed during a political rally in July.

More than 4,000 people have gathered at the Nippon Budokan arena in central Tokyo. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, along with the heads of the Upper and Lower Houses, as well as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, are attending. Former Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide is due to deliver a eulogy on behalf of Abe's friends.

Abe's is only the second state funeral held in Japan. The other was for former Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru, 55 years ago.

Members of the public have been laying flowers outside the venue to pay their respects. Flags at government offices across Japan are also being flown at half-mast.

But Tuesday's day of mourning is also a day of protests.

Some opponents of the state funeral say the government and Japanese taxpayers should not bear the entire cost of the event. Others question the rationale, as only one other former prime minister has been given a state funeral since the end of World War Two.

An NHK opinion poll this month found more than half of respondents did not approve of the event. Seventy-two percent said the government had not done a good enough job explaining why a state funeral was needed.