OKAYAMA -- The majority of people expressed their disapproval over holding a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while around one-third of respondents indicated their support in a street survey conducted in west Japan.
A citizens' group carried out the poll on Sept. 8, where it asked pedestrians in the city of Okayama's Kita Ward to put stickers on a board under the sections of either "support," "oppose" or "neither," regarding their views on Abe's state funeral, as part of the group's nationwide activities amid a divide in public opinion. After about one hour, those opposed to the funeral had gathered the greatest number of 55 stickers, while "support" stood at 33 and "neither" at 14.
A vocational school student in his 20s expressed complete support for Abe's state funeral, saying, "He was a figure who was at the helm of Japan's government for a long time, and I think without him, the Japanese people would have been facing difficulties now. To be honest, I don't know why anyone would express disapproval."
Meanwhile, an office worker in his 60s who was against the state funeral said, "He had many murky issues, including (the cronyism scandals involving) school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution. The decision should not be made by the Cabinet and should undergo public debate, and if Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says that he will not force people to offer condolences to Abe, then it should be completely unnecessary to hold a state funeral as well."
Okayama University professor emeritus Ryuzaburo Noda, 85, who is a representative of the citizens' group, commented, "The number of people expressing support for the state funeral exceeded my expectations, but surely as long as the majority opposes it, a state funeral should not be held."
The survey results will apparently be later sent to the prime minister's office along with results of similar polls conducted in 13 prefectures, including Tokyo, Kanagawa and Aichi.
(Japanese original by Yasuaki Hiramoto, Okayama Bureau)