Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged the party will sever all ties with the church, but the scandal has helped fuel discontent over the state funeral.
Thousands have protested the ceremony and a man set himself on fire near the prime minister’s office, leaving notes reportedly expressing his objection to the event. Some lawmakers from opposition parties are also boycotting the funeral altogether.
The controversy has various causes, with some accusing Kishida of unilaterally approving the funeral instead of consulting parliament, and others resentful of a nearly US$12 million price tag.
It is also the legacy of Abe’s divisive tenure, marked by persistent allegations of cronyism, and opposition to his nationalism and plans to reform the pacifist constitution.
MASSIVE SECURITY OPERATION
Kishida’s government may be hoping the solemnity of the event, attended by an estimated 4,300 people, including 700 foreign invitees, will drown out the controversy.
When Abe’s family held an initial private funeral for him, thousands of Japanese turned out to pay respects, and many are expected to line up Tuesday morning to offer flowers near the funeral site at Tokyo’s storied Budokan venue.
Abe’s ashes are expected to arrive at the site to the sound of a 19-gun salute, and chief government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno will open the proceedings around 2pm before the national anthem and a moment of silence.
Eulogies will follow from Kishida and politicians including Yoshihide Suga, who succeeded Abe after his resignation.
Japan’s emperor and empress will not attend, as neutral national figures, but Crown Prince Akishino and his wife are expected to lead mourners in offering flowers at the end of the 90-minute service.
US Vice President Kamala Harris and world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian premier Anthony Albanese will be in the crowd.