Japan to ask foreign guests to wear face masks at Abe state funeral

Japan will ask foreign guests attending the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week to wear protective face masks to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the top government spokesman said Thursday.
"We will call for foreign dignitaries and other attendees to wear face masks and take infection prevention measures, such as preparing disinfectant, on the day of the state funeral," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference.
The request marks a sharp contrast with Monday's state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II in London, at which attendees, including Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, took part without wearing face masks.
While the number of new COVID-19 cases has been declining in Japan, the government has still urged the public to wear face masks inside buildings and other facilities.
The government, meanwhile, said Thursday that a total of 217 countries, regions and international organizations plan to send attendees to Abe's state funeral to be held Tuesday in a hall in Tokyo.
Of them, 116 will dispatch attendees from abroad, while the remaining 101 will be represented by individuals in Japan such as embassy officials, according to the Foreign Ministry.
U.S Vice President Kamala Harris, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo and Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc are among those on the list released by the ministry.

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