A day after the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, many tearful people went to the place where he was killed in western Japan to pray and send flowers for him.
People from all walks of life formed a long line Saturday on the street where Abe was shot, after he was shot at an event in the city of Nara.
Abe, 67, was giving a speech about the election when he was shot twice.
The rain did not deter the crowds who came to offer their condolences, with some having traveled great distances like 51-year-old Yoshikazu Tokudome, who flew hundreds of kilometers from the Tokyo region to the city of Nara.
“I’m just in pain and I thought the least I could do was come here and put some flowers,” he told AFP.
When he heard of the death of Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, he said, “I could understand what was being said in the news, but I just couldn’t accept it.”
Visitors like Tokudome bowed deeply with their eyes closed, some crying as they placed flowers on a table in a tent erected near Yamato-Saidaiji Station.
“It’s just shocking and I’m very sad. I felt very restless at home,” said Sumiko Hayashi, 50.
“I really liked him as a person too,” she said, especially “the way he looked so happy with his wife.”
As bouquet after bouquet piled up on the table, it became a makeshift altar adorned with framed photos and cartoon illustrations of a smiling Abe, who was forced to step down in 2020 due to ill health.
Bottles of beer and other drinks were also placed on the table for the politician to enjoy in the afterlife, but the prevailing mood was somber.
Wiping away tears, 52-year-old Kayoko Ueda, from the neighboring Osaka region, told AFP she was “worried” and could not believe something like this could happen in Japan.
The killing has sparked scrutiny of whether security measures at Abe’s speech were sufficient.
“The security was weak. It exposed, I think, how complacent Japan is in thinking that everything is safe here,” Ueda said.
Akira Takahashia 54-year-old resident of Osaka, thought the same.
“High-ranking officials from abroad, such as prime ministers and cabinet members, often visit Japan under the assumption that it is a safe country,” Takahashi said.
“But I think that security should be strengthened much more in the future.”
With tears in her eyes, Takahashi said that as she laid flowers, “I said, ‘Thank you for everything and please rest in peace.’
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