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US envoy praises Abe’s contribution to Japan-US ties

Rahm said the attendance of Vice President Kamala Harris at the funeral “demonstrates the respect President Joe Biden has for former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and his family…reports Asian Lite News

US Ambassador to Japan on Monday recalled and praised late ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s work that brought Japan and the United States together.

 “I am honoured to be part of the Presidential Delegation and to have the opportunity to pay my respects to the former Prime Minister at the state funeral,” Rahm Emanuel said in a statement ahead of Abe’s state funeral.

The 67-year-old politician was gunned down at an election rally in July.

“As President Biden said on the day of Abe-san’s death: ‘The United States stands with Japan in this moment of grief’.  It was true then; it remains true today.”

Rahm said the attendance of Vice President Kamala Harris at the funeral “demonstrates the respect President Joe Biden has for former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and his family, and sends a strong signal of our deep commitment to the Japanese people. While we are allies by treaty, we are friends in our hearts.”

On the achievements of Abe in the context of Japan-US relations, Rahm said: “Abe-san lived a life worth living. He was a great statesman with strong connections to America and Americans; he was the first and only Japanese Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress; he accompanied President Obama on the first visit by a sitting US President to Hiroshima; and he was the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit the memorial aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.”

Shinzo Abe addressing the gathering during the event celebrating 30 years of Sasakawa in Africa (Photo Twitter@AfDB_Group)

“These were historic events that show his unwavering commitment to the US-Japan Alliance and our two countries’ friendship. Abe-san was indispensable for developing the strong relations between us, and his vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific informs strategic architecture across the region.”

Meanwhile, some 20,000 police officers have been reportedly being deployed for the security at the event being held at the Nippon Budokan arena in central Tokyo which is estimated to cost taxpayers $1.65 billion yen ($11 million).

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida received the ashes, which appear to be contained in a ceremonial box.

He then formally handed it to military officers who placed the box in the centre of the altar, set up at the front of the room.

Up to 1,000 soldiers are set to perform ceremonial duties, with a military honour guard firing 19 blank rounds from a cannon to salute the former Prime Minister.

This is only the second state funeral held in Japan. The other was for former Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru 55 years ago.

Members of the public have been laying flowers outside the venue to pay their respects. Flags at government offices across Japan are also being flown at half-mast, reports public broadcaster NHK.

ALSO READ: Japan bids farewell to Abe

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