TOKYO -- A group of lawyers and others on Aug. 26 released a statement opposing a state funeral for assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next month, saying that it violates the Japanese people's basic freedoms.
"The state funeral will be a ritual where the state brings its people together and expresses sympathy for Abe. Forcing sympathies onto the public runs counter to the Constitution's Article 19, which guarantees the freedom of thought and conscience," the statement read.
At a press conference held in Tokyo the same day, the group, including lawyers and university professors, argued that the state funeral scheduled for Sept. 27 "will force the public to participate through the spending of taxpayers' money," even though the government says it will not force the public to express condolences. The group said its statement was backed by 118 supporters.
Lawyer Kazuyuki Azusawa also told the press conference, "Public opinion polls have shown that many people are opposed to the state funeral, and we'd like to create an opportunity for them to raise their voices."
As the reasons for objecting to the state funeral, the group members said that the spending for the ceremony violates the Constitution's Article 83 stipulating that state outlays must be determined by the Diet. They also cited sharply divided opinion on Abe's performance as prime minister, with roots in a spate of cronyism scandals involving school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution.
Lawyer Toichiro Sawafuji told reporters, "There may be (public) objections to state funerals themselves, or to Abe's state funeral specifically. Both positions should be respected."
Meiji University political science professor Shinichi Nishikawa said at the press conference, "Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has cited the international community's praise (of Abe) and the public's widespread sympathies as the reasons for deciding on the state funeral. But this reasoning is subjective, and this kind of event must not be the arbitrary decision of the current regime."
(Japanese original by Shota Harumashi, Tokyo City News Department)