State funeral for Japan's Abe will cost about $17 million

The state funeral comes about two months after former Japan PM Shinzo Abe was shot dead on the campaign trail. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - The Japanese state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will cost 1.7 billion yen (S$17 million), the top government spokesman said on Tuesday.

In announcing the total costs, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno changed direction for the government, which earlier said it would reveal the overall figure after the event. 

The size of the budget may strengthen public opposition to the state funeral, which comes about two months after Abe was shot dead on the campaign trail. A series of opinion polls has found most respondents opposed to the event, set for Sept 27, which will be the first for a Japanese politician since 1967.

The country's longest-serving prime minister, Abe was well known on the global stage, but a sometimes divisive figure at home. Many people opposed his policy of strengthening the military and were angered by a series of scandals during his tenure.

Ties between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the controversial Unification Church that came to light after Abe's assassination have also clouded his image and undermined support for current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

An announcement of the costs would mark a change in direction for the government, which earlier said it would reveal the total figure after the event. Initial estimates of 200 million yen reported in the domestic media didn't include security or hospitality for guests from overseas.

While about 6,000 people are expected to attend, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be the only serving leader from a Group of Seven country to take part, according to news network ANN and other media outlets.

A private funeral and cremation ceremony have already been held for Abe, who remained influential in politics even after stepping down as leader in 2020.

He was shot at close range in the western city of Nara in July, horrifying a nation where gun violence is rare and triggering an outpouring of sympathy from around the world. BLOOMBERG

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