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Thousands rally against Abe's state funeral in Tokyo, decry 'freedom of thought violation'

TOKYO -- About 4,000 people staged a protest in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo on Aug. 31, criticizing government plans to hold a state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    During the rally -- organized by a planning committee against Abe's state funeral comprising 79 civic groups and other organizations in the greater Tokyo area -- participants chanted slogans such as, "Don't use Cabinet approval to have the final say on everything," and "Don't infringe on freedom of thought." The number of participants was released by the organizers.

    People protest against a state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on Aug. 31, 2022. (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

    Wataru Noguchi, a 57-year-old office worker from Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, held up a sign reading, "Don't force sympathy (for Abe) onto us." He told the Mainichi Shimbun, "The question of whether to express sympathy should be left up to each member of the public. If a state funeral goes ahead, there are concerns that people will be subjected to peer pressure to display their condolences in all sorts of places, from schools to government offices and companies."

    During a press conference earlier the same day, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida cited the need to "demonstrate the state's uncompromising stance of not yielding to violence" as one of the reasons for holding the state funeral. Abe was gunned down during a stump speech for a candidate in the House of Councillors election, just two days before the July vote.

    In reference to Kishida's statement, Noguchi commented, "The government could demonstrate its resolve without using state funds. I want the government to face up to the reality that many people are raising their voices against this (state funeral)."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Kato, Machida Resident Bureau)

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