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Japanese leaders mark one year since the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe

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LA Post: Japanese leaders mark one year since the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe
The Los Angeles Post
July 08, 2023

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese political and business leaders on Saturday marked one year since the assassination of Japan’s former leader, Shinzo Abe, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledging to tackle pressing political goals as a way of honoring Abe’s wishes.

At a Buddhist temple Zojoji in Tokyo, Kishida and his governing Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers, as well as representatives from opposition parties and business leaders, attended a closed memorial service hosted by Abe’s widow Akie Abe and the family. Tables were set up at the temple for flower laying by the public later Saturday.

Kishida, speaking to reporters Friday as he renewed his tribute to Abe, said he has tackled policies that could not be delayed, “as a way of honoring Mr. Abe's last wishes." “I will keep working at it to fulfil my responsibilities.”

Amid a national outcry over a botched security, police have tightened their protective measures following a subsequent investigation that found holes in how Abe was guarded.

In Nara, near the site of Abe’s assassination, dozens of people lined up from early Saturday to lay flowers.

The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, was arrested at the scene and has been charged with murder and several other crimes, including violating the gun control law. A starting date for his murder trial has yet to be set.

Yamagami has told investigators that he killed Abe, one of Japan’s most influential and divisive politicians, because of the former prime minister’s apparent links to a religious group that he hated. In statements and in social media postings attributed to him, Yamagami said he developed a grudge because his mother had made massive donations to the Unification Church that bankrupted his family and ruined his life.

The investigation into the case has led to revelations of years of cozy ties between Abe’s governing Liberal Democratic Party and the church since Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped the church take root in Japan in the 1960s over shared interests in conservative and anti-communist causes.

Kishida’s popularity has plunged over his handling of the church controversy and for his insistence on holding a rare, controversial state funeral for Abe in September last year.

Abe, born into a prominent political family and Japan's longest-serving prime minister, bolstered Japan's military role and promoted the “free and open” Indo-Pacific vision now inherited by Kishida. Abe maintained influence even after stepped down as prime minister in 2020.

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