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    HomeNewsHeadlinesJapan marks a year since former PM Abe was gunned down

    Japan marks a year since former PM Abe was gunned down


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    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan commemorated the one-year anniversary of the tragic assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday. Abe was fatally shot during an election speech by an individual angered by his alleged associations with the Unification Church. This act of gun violence shocked the nation, as Japan is largely unaccustomed to such incidents.

    Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, along with other top officials and lawmakers, gathered at a Buddhist temple in Tokyo to attend a private memorial service for Abe. The late prime minister’s widow, Akie, joined them in paying their respects. After the service concluded, members of the public were invited to offer flowers at the temple.

    Among those paying their respects was Tsuu Ogawa, a 49-year-old hotel worker. Interestingly, Ogawa shares her birthday with the day of Abe’s assassination. Expressing her disbelief at the tragic event, she said, “I was shocked that such a terrible thing could happen in Japan, and I pray that we never witness anything like this again.”

    Shinzo Abe is remembered for his efforts in implementing economic policies aimed at ending deflation, which included measures such as aggressive monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and deregulation. However, critics argue that these policies contributed to the widening income gap in the country.

    During his tenure, Abe also advocated for a more assertive defense policy, leading to increased military spending and a reinterpretation of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution. This allowed Japanese troops to engage in overseas combat for the first time since World War Two. Atsuhiro Ueda, a 35-year-old office worker, expressed his support for politicians continuing Abe’s initiatives.

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    While current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has distanced himself from Abe’s economic agenda, he has maintained his predecessor’s hawkish approach, announcing a doubling of defense spending last year.

    The untimely demise of Shinzo Abe sparked public outrage against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party when their close ties to the Unification Church were exposed. Tetsuya Yamagami, a 42-year-old suspect who has yet to face trial, allegedly used a homemade firearm crafted from metal and wood to carry out the assassination. In social media posts prior to the incident, Yamagami blamed the Unification Church for his mother’s financial struggles.

    The Unification Church, renowned globally for its mass weddings, has faced criticism for placing significant financial burdens on its followers through substantial donation requests. Revelations of Abe’s and more than half of the LDP lawmakers’ connections to the church, including acceptance of donations and the use of its members as election workers, led to high-level resignations within the party. One notable resignation was that of Economic Revitalization Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa.

    Although Prime Minister Kishida was not implicated in these scandals, his public support suffered in the aftermath. In April, concerns about political violence resurfaced when a man threw what appeared to be a pipe bomb at Kishida during a public appearance in western Japan. Fortunately, the prime minister escaped unharmed.

    (Reporting by Tim Kelly and Irene Wang; Editing by Kim Coghill)

    Credit: The Star : News Feed

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