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Japan on high alert as it readies for ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

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Tokyo, Sep 26 (PTI) Japan has imposed tight security measures in Tokyo as the capital city prepares to hold a state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday with foreign dignitaries like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Vice President Kamala Harris attending the high-profile event.

Police are taking extra precautions to ensure there is no gap in security given that Abe was gunned down despite the presence of police while the 67-year-old leader was giving an election speech on July 8 during campaigning for the House of Councillors election, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported quoted a police source as saying.

Among the measures are placing police along the streets, heightening alert at JR Tokyo Station and other locations where many people congregate, and collecting information to take precautions against a “lone wolf” type of terrorist attack, it said.

Abe, who was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office in 2006 for a year and then again from 2012 to 2020, before stepping down citing health reasons.

Two stands for the general public to lay tribute flowers will be set up at a park near the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo, the venue for the major event, with baggage inspection to be conducted for those offering flowers and access to streets around the site restricted, the government said.

Demonstrations have been held ahead of the state funeral, with participants also saying that holding the event pressures people to mourn the death of the divisive former leader, the report said.

Last week, a man set himself on fire near the prime minister’s office here. And on Monday around 10,000 protestors marched through the streets of the capital demanding the state funeral be called off.

The state-funded event, starting at 2 p.m. Tuesday (10:30 a.m. IST), faces growing criticism as it is expected to cost some 1.66 billion yen (USD 11.6 million) in taxpayers’ money, with a large portion attributed to security costs, the report said.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police Department will impose top-level security measures equivalent to those adopted at the time of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games last year as well as Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum throne in 2019, it said.

The size of the police presence will exceed the 18,000 personnel who were mobilised on May 24 this year to enhance security for a Quad Summit in Tokyo hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and joined by US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“I will be conveying heartfelt condolences to Prime Minister Kishida and Mrs. Abe on behalf of all Indians. We will continue working to further strengthen India-Japan relations as envisioned by Abe San,” Prime Minister Modi said in a tweet on Monday ahead of his visit to Tokyo.

As wide areas of the Metropolitan Expressway and roads around the venue will be closed, the government is asking people to use public transportation.

Kitanomaru Garden, where the hall is located, will be off limits to people other than those attending or involved in the state funeral and those offering flowers, the Kyodo report said. PTI AKJ AKJ

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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