Japan Crown Prince Naruhito and former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda arrived in South Africa on Tuesday to attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

“We have decided to ask Crown Prince Naruhito to attend the funeral in honor of the achievements by Mr. Mandela,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida could not come to South Africa because of an approaching summit between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Tokyo from Friday.

Leaders and royalty from all over the world have flown to Johannesburg to pay tribute to the former South African president and one of the world’s greatest statesman.

Thousands of people have flocked to the FNB Stadium, the venue of the 2010 soccer World Cup’s closing ceremony, on the eve of Mandela’s funeral on Tuesday to mourn and celebrate his life.

Chants and singing have erupted among the crowds in the stands, according to reports from the scene.

“The core of Mandela’s life was humanity. That is why I am here today and the world is celebrating,” Shahida Rowe who was attending the sentimental ceremony told the BBC. “Thanks to him, I was recognized as a human being.”

Mandela, also known fondly as Madiba, his traditional Xhosa clan name, was an instrumental figure in the liberation movement during the apartheid era in South Africa.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: faithmeetsworld.com