The Japanese government pledged Thursday to start discussing the conditions and rules for holding a state funeral, as public opinion was divided over one held for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September.

The promise came after the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida released a collection of opinions from 21 experts, including scholars of law, politics and diplomacy, on Abe's funeral.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie (bottom) is pictured after offering flowers at Abe's state funeral at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo on Sept. 27, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"We will consider what steps we should take, such as communications with parliament, to get a wide-ranging understanding of the public," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the top government spokesman, told a news conference.

After Japan's longest-serving prime minister was fatally shot on July 8 during an election campaign speech by a lone gunman, Kishida swiftly decided to hold a state-funded event for Abe, the first of its kind for a former premier in 55 years.

But he has since faced harsh criticism over the controversial ceremony, with critics and opposition lawmakers arguing that there is no legal basis for staging a state funeral for a former prime minister.

As Kishida's Cabinet decided to conduct the funeral without parliamentary deliberations, many of the experts said in the report that the government should have gained a consensus in parliament or coordinated with various political parties on the issue.

During the postwar period, Japan had only hosted a state funeral for a former premier once. The honor was given in 1967 to former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who led the country's recovery from World War II.

In the report, meanwhile, many of the experts said it is difficult or impossible to set unified rules on what qualifies one to receive a state funeral.

All of the costs for Abe's funeral were covered by taxpayer money. Some of the experts said the government should have asked his family or the Liberal Democratic Party, which he formerly headed, to pay some of the amount totaling around 1.2 billion yen ($9.1 million).

The ceremony, held at the Nippon Budokan hall on Sept. 27, was attended by more than 4,000 people from home and abroad, including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Abe, who died aged 67, was prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno holds a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 22, 2022. (Kyodo)

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