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Extra Diet session ends with state funeral for ex-PM Abe unaddressed

House of Representatives members leave the chamber in Tokyo as Japan's extraordinary Diet session ends, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- An extraordinary Diet session ended Friday without any debate over a controversial plan to hold a state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while other key issues such as rising energy and food prices also went unaddressed.

    The three-day session was held to deal with procedural matters following the House of Councillors election on July 10. Debates on issues, such as whether it is appropriate to hold a state funeral for the assassinated former leader, were expected to happen when parliamentary committee sessions were closed.

    Hidehisa Otsuji, who was elected upper house president on Wednesday, and House of Representatives Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda read out condolence messages for Abe, who was prime minister for more than eight years, as is customary for house speakers at a plenary session upon the death of an incumbent Diet member.

    Abe "served as prime minister for the longest period in constitutional political history and devoted himself to the development of our country's democracy," Otsuji said in the upper house.

    Abe was "committed to the peace and prosperity of the world and contributed to improving people's lives and raising Japan's international status," said Hosoda in the lower house session in the afternoon.

    The ruling Liberal Democratic Party had originally sought to have Akira Amari, a close aide to Abe, deliver a more significant parliamentary speech but decided to forgo the plan amid criticism it is inappropriate given Amari has been mired in a graft scandal and opposition leaders have given such speeches in the past.

    The public remains divided over the merits of holding Abe's state funeral, planned for Sept. 27, with a recent Kyodo News survey showing 53.3 percent of respondents opposed it, while 61.9 percent said parliamentary debate on holding the event is necessary.

    The opposition camp has criticized the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for its decision to hold the funeral, saying it could be used to cement a positive legacy for Abe while forcing people to engage with public mourning of the sometimes controversial figure.

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