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Headline

The Voice of Tokyo for over 50 Years

JAPAN’S NO.1 ENGLISH LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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Latest Issue
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News Roundup: Counting the Cost of Abe’s Controversial State Funeral

By Matthew Hernon

In this week’s news roundup, we focus on Shinzo Abe’s controversial state funeral that took place on Tuesday. As well as the official guests inside the Nippon Budokan Arena, huge crowds gathered nearby to pay their respects outside. At the same time, there were also thousands of protesters expressing their anger at the LDP’s links with the Unification Church and the cost of the funeral, estimated to be around ¥1.66 billion. The ceremony could also prove costly for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as the government’s approval ratings continue to plummet.  

In other news this week, we report on Masao Adachi’s film profiling the life of Abe’s suspected killer, Tetsuya Yamagami. In Chiba, the search goes on for Saya Minami. The 7-year-old hasn’t been seen since last Friday. Over in Russia, a Japanese national is released from custody after being accused of espionage. And in sport, sumo wrestler Tamawashi wins the Emperor’s Cup while boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeats MMA fighter Mikuru Asakura. The Samurai Blue, meanwhile, win and draw and two NBA teams arrive in Japan.  

A State Funeral Dividing Opinion

More than 4,300 guests were in attendance at the Nippon Budokan Arena on Tuesday afternoon to pay their final respects to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among them were more than 50 current and former world leaders including the likes of Narendra Modi, Anthony Albanese, Justin Trudeau, Theresa May and Nicolas Sarkozy. A video retrospective of Abe’s life was shown after a 19-gun military salute and moment of silence. Near the venue thousands lined up to lay flowers and offer prayers for the ex-PM.

It wasn’t just about the mourners, though. A large number of protesters gathered in areas surrounding the Budokan Arena to express their dissatisfaction at such an extravagant ceremony for a man who split opinion. The unilateral decision made by Fumio Kishida to hold the event was considered undemocratic as it had no legal basis. News about the cost of the funeral added to people’s anger. According to some reports, the ¥1.66 billion spent on Abe’s ceremony was more expensive than the Queen’s funeral (though that figure has yet to be officially disclosed). 

A FILM ABOUT SHINZO ABE’S KILLER AIRED PRIOR TO HIS STATE FUNERAL

Controversial Film Premieres Prior to Abe’s Funeral 

A day before the funeral, Masao Adachi’s controversial film Revolution+1 was shown at around a dozen theaters nationwide. The story focuses on Kawakami (Soran Tamoto), a character based on Tetsuya Yamagami, the man suspected of assassinating Abe. It begins with the former PM delivering a speech in Nara before profiling the life of his killer. We see Kawakami’s anger grow as he is forced to give up on the chance to go to university due to the huge donations his mother gives to the Unification Church.  

The movie was also screened twice on the day of the funeral at Cinema Skhole in Nagoya. “I do not regard the suspect, Yamagami, as a hero. The theme of the film is to let everyone think about why he decided to rouse himself to take such action on his own,” said the director prior to the first screening in Nagoya. Adachi, 83, a former member of the Japanese Red Army, plans to make the film more widely available at the end of the year. 

Japanese Diplomat Blindfolded and Restrained During Interrogation  

Japan has demanded an apology from Russia after diplomat Motoki Tatsunori was allegedly subjected to ‘coercive interrogation’ in Vladivostok. “The official was blindfolded, with pressure applied to both his hands and head so he was unable to move while being detained. And then he was questioned in an overbearing way,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. Accused of espionage, Tatsunori was released from custody on Tuesday. Declared persona non grata, he was given 48 hours to leave the country.  

According to Russia’s FSB security service, Tatsunori was soliciting information about the “impact of Western sanctions” in the eastern Primorsky region following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. The agency added: “A Japanese diplomat was detained red-handed while receiving classified information, in exchange for money, about Russia’s co-operation with another country in the Asia-Pacific region.” Tokyo has denied these claims. Lodging a protest with the Russian foreign ministry, Japan’s embassy in Moscow said Tatsunori’s detention violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.  

 

Elementary School Student Still Missing 

It’s now been a week since elementary school first grader Saya Minami was last seen. The 7-year-old went missing from her hometown of Matsudo in Chiba Prefecture shortly before noon last Friday. According to the police, she left her house with a kick-scooter at around 11:30am and headed to the park. Her mother followed behind, but when she arrived at the destination approximately five minutes later, Saya was nowhere to be found. Around 115cm tall with short black hair, she was wearing a pink top.  

Later in the day, the young girl’s kick scooter was found in a different park in the neighboring city of Nagareyama. The following morning, her shoes and socks were discovered on the banks of the Edo River near the park. On Wednesday, a water utility worker found the girl’s hat at the water intake of the river. The word “Saya” was written on the inside tag of the cap. Police divers subsequently searched the intake but found no other clues.  

Tamawashi Makes History with Emperor’s Cup Win 

Sumo wrestler Tamawashi, aged 37 years and 10 months, became the oldest ever winner of the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday. The Mongolian, ranked maegashira No. 3, went into the final day one win ahead of maegashira No.4, Takayasu. The latter’s hopes of forcing a play-off were ended when he was pushed out of the ring by his regular training partner in the final bout. It’s Tamawashi’s second Emperor’s Cup triumph. Yokozuna Terunofuji pulled out on day 10 due to injuries to both of his knees.  

In boxing, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had little trouble in disposing of MMA fighter Mikuru Asakura inside two rounds at the Saitama Super Arena. There was a controversial moment prior to the contest as politician Takashi Okuno threw a bunch of flowers to the ground rather than passing them to the former undefeated multi-division boxing champion. Rizin President Nobuyuki Sakakibara expressed his regret regarding the incident. “We deeply apologize for letting such a vile individual step inside the sacred ring,” he wrote on Instagram. 

Rui Hachimura
Rui Hachimura at training on Thursday

Wizards and Warriors Set to Face Off in Saitama  

The Washington Wizards and NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors arrived in Japan in midweek ahead of their two preseason games here. The sides face each other at the Saitama Super Arena on Friday evening before a follow-up clash on Sunday afternoon. On Thursday, the media watched both teams in open training sessions for the event sponsored by Rakuten and Nissan. The two biggest draws were Stephen Curry, who won the MVP award at this year’s NBA finals, and Rui Hachimura, who represented Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics.  

In soccer, Japan continued their preparations for the FIFA World Cup with games against USA and Ecuador. They easily won the former 2-0 thanks to goals from Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada and Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma. The latter, however, ended in a drab goalless draw. Goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt rescued the Samurai Blue from defeat with an 83rd minute penalty save. Hajime Moriyasu’s men will play one more friendly against Canada before beginning their World Cup campaign against Germany on November 23.  

 


Feature image edited based on the original from Prime Minister’s official residence website (https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/101_kishida/actions/202209/27funeral.html)