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Tokyo court rejects request to halt state funeral for ex-PM Abe

Kaoru Iwata and other members of a civic group hold a press conference in Tokyo on Aug. 10, 2022, after a Tokyo court dismissed their request to issue an injunction ordering a stop to a public-funded state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A Tokyo court has dismissed a request filed by a group of 50 people, including civic group members, to issue an injunction ordering a stop to a state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    In a decision dated Aug. 2, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the use of public funds for the planned funeral did not violate Article 19 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of thought. The group has appealed.

    Presiding Judge Keiji Mukai said that a state funeral does not "force individual citizens to offer condolences to Mr. Abe or to mourn for him," adding that there was no legal grounds for issuing an injunction against the use of the national budget.

    Kaoru Iwata, co-chairman of the civic group, at a press conference Wednesday expressed disappointment at the ruling, saying the decision was made without a hearing being held for involved parties to present their argument.

    A separate group on Tuesday filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking an injunction against the state funeral among other requests.

    Iwata's group plans to file a lawsuit Friday at district courts in Saitama and Yokohama, in the hopes that other courts will yield more favorable outcomes.

    The state funeral, to be fully funded by the government, will be held on Sept. 27. The Cabinet Office said Tuesday that the cost would likely be just under 200 million yen ($1.5 million), and that a state funeral "does not oblige each and every citizen to mourn."

    Abe was shot dead by a lone gunman during a stump speech in the western city of Nara on July 8, two days before a House of Councillors election. The assassination shocked a country known for its strict gun control and relatively few instances of political violence.

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