With flowers and a gun salute, Japan bids farewell to slain Abe at state funeral
Leaders from across the world have gathered for the state funeral of Japan's assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the Sky News reported. He was honoured with flowers, prayers and a 19-gun salute.
More than 4,300 people attended the event, which has caused nationwide protests, in Tokyo's Budokan Hall as thousands of armed police were posted around the capital.
The ceremony started at 2:00 p.m. (0500 GMT), with Abe's ashes carried into the Nippon Budokan Hall in central Tokyo by his widow, Akie, to music from a military band and the booms of the honour-guard salute.
Inside the Budokan, better known as a concert venue, a large portrait of Abe draped with black ribbon hung over a bank of green, white and yellow flowers.
Nearby, a wall of photos showed him strolling with G7 leaders, holding hands with children and visiting disaster areas.
US Vice President Kamala Harris, former UK prime minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly were among those who attended the funeral.
The event saw speeches by Mrs Abe and government representatives including Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Abe's killing at a July 8 campaign rally set off a flood of revelations about ties between lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) he once ran and the Unification Church, which critics call a cult, sparking a backlash against current premier Fumio Kishida.
With his support ratings dragged to their lowest ever by the controversy, Kishida has apologised and vowed to cut party ties to the church.
While Shinzo Abe was loved by nationalists and many on the right in Japan, protesters have dubbed his policies as pro-war.
Abe pushed the country toward a muscular defence posture that many now see as prescient amid growing concern about China, but others criticised as too hawkish.