Cost and controversy

Shinzo Abe's funeral was more expensive than the Queen of England's

The funeral for Shinzo Abe, the assassinated former prime minister of Japan, cost $12 million
Shinzo Abe's funeral was more expensive than the Queen of England's
Photo: Kent Nishimura (Getty Images)
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Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated with a homemade gun while on the campaign trail in July, was buried today (Sept. 27).

Like Queen Elizabeth II last week, Abe was buried in a state funeral attended by international dignitaries and surrounded by grand ritual and grieving mourners.

While an official tally has not been disclosed by the UK government, the Queen’s funeral was expected to have cost about $8.5 million. Abe’s was about $12 million, according to a Japanese government spokesperson.

Security accounted for about half of the costs, with another third going into hosting the estimated 700 foreign dignitaries, according to a BBC report.

The Japanese public is divided about Abe’s legacy

The price tag for Abe’s funeral is sparking resentment in Japan. A survey by Japan’s Kyodo news agency found that 70% of respondents thought the government was spending too much, and police pushed back against thousands of angry protestors outside the event today.

The costs are only part of the reason why not everyone in Japan is happy to shoulder the public expense of Abe’s funeral.

Abe was a divisive political figure in Japan. His death, and his lavish funeral, have become a referendum on his administration. His critics have used the occasion to bring up scandals and controversial decisions during his tenure, from the granting of improper political favors to the mishandling of the early days of the pandemic.

The circumstances of his assassination have likewise shed light on his ties to the Unification Church. The fringe religious group, which Abe supported but was not a member of, is accused of shady entanglements with politicians, as well as of extracting large sums of cash from its followers, including the mother of Tetsuya Yamagami, the man who killed the former prime minister.

In a further sign of the backlash against Abe, Yamagami is being celebrated by some as an antihero, whose cause has resonated among disaffected Japanese youth. While Yamagami sits in jail, his uncle is receiving gifts from avid supporters on his behalf.