Japan's Cabinet on Friday approved a 249 million yen ($1.8 million) allocation to pay for the controversial state funeral next month of slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
As the public remains divided over Abe's political legacy and scandals, the Cabinet has no plan to urge ministries and related agencies to extend condolences at the time when the funeral will be held on Sept. 27.
The amount, to be fully disbursed from reserve funds of the government's fiscal 2022 budget, includes 210 million yen for setting up the Nippon Budokan hall venue in Tokyo and 30 million yen for a renting fee.
It also covers COVID-19 precautions as well as funding the provision of simultaneous interpretation for foreign guests, but it does not include the costs for security around the venue provided by police, according to government sources.
The price tag is significantly higher than when the government spent some 96 million yen for a 2020 funeral for former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone hosted jointly with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
While the public was shocked by the assassination of Abe during a July 8 campaign stump speech in the western city of Nara, it has been divided over whether holding the state funeral for the sometimes controversial figure is appropriate.
For past funerals of former prime ministers in which the state was involved, the Cabinet had asked government agencies to offer silent prayers and raise mourning flags, but it decided not to do so this time apparently to head off further criticism.
The government has no plan to seek cooperation in offering condolences from public agencies and related organizations, including local public bodies and education boards, "to avoid misunderstanding that we are seeking each and every person to offer condolences," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
Matsuno said some 6,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony, around the same number of people who took part in the most recent state funeral for former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1967.
Key foreign figures planning to attend the funeral include former U.S. President Barack Obama, current Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The funeral for Yoshida, who led Japan as it rose from the ashes of World War II, is the only state funeral held so far in postwar Japan. Past funeral services for former prime ministers who belonged to the LDP were jointly hosted by the government and the party.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed in July his intention to hold a state funeral for the former leader, citing his record eight years and eight months as prime minister as well as the significant recognition he garnered in the international community.
But the opposition camp has claimed there are no legal provisions for holding a state funeral and has expressed concern that it could be used to cement a positive legacy for Abe while forcing people to engage in public mourning.
A nationwide telephone poll conducted by Kyodo News earlier this month showed 56.0 percent were unconvinced by Kishida's explanation for why it is appropriate to hold a state funeral for Abe, while 42.5 percent said they accepted it.
The Cabinet also approved the resignations of the top bureaucrat of the Japanese police and the head of police security forces, who offered to step down over the failure to stop Abe's assassination.
Itaru Nakamura will be replaced by Yasuhiro Tsuyuki as the National Police Agency's commissioner general, while Kazuya Hara will take over as the head of the security bureau in place of Kenichi Sakurazawa as of Tuesday.
The agency concluded in its investigations there was a "high likelihood that (the attack) could have been prevented" had the police placed officers in the area behind the former prime minister as appropriate.