Grieving Japanese paid their final farewells to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Tuesday.
Scores of everyday people lined up outside Tokyo’s Zojoji Temple to bring flowers and other tokens of respect for Abe, who was gunned down last Friday in the western city of Nara during a campaign rally. Many of the mourners cried as they bowed in prayer in front of the temple.
Zojoji Temple was the site of a private ceremony for the 67-year-old Abe that was limited to only his close friends and family. Abe’s casket was then removed from the temple and placed in a hearse for a long processional through downtown Tokyo to Kirigaya Funeral Hall for cremation with thousands of residents lined up along the route to wave their final goodbyes.
The hearse was slated to drive by several significant venues from Abe’s political career, including the prime minister’s official office, the Parliament building and the headquarters of his Liberal Democratic Party.
The suspected gunman in Abe’s assassination, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, was immediately seized after he shot the ex-prime minister was taken into custody.
Japanese news outlets say Yamagani, a former member of the country’s Self-Defense Forces, wanted to kill Abe because he believed him to be part of an unspecified religious group he blamed for his mother’s financial ruin.
The Unification Church, a global religious movement founded in South Korea in the 1950s by the late Reverend Sun Myung Moon, confirmed Monday that Yamagami’s mother was a member, but did not comment on any donations she may have made.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse.