Kishida begins 3 days of 'condolence diplomacy' around Abe funeral

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday began three days of meetings with more than 30 foreign dignitaries as the state funeral of slain former leader Shinzo Abe provides a chance to embark on a round of so-called "condolence diplomacy."
On Monday, Kishida had meetings with Gabon Prime Minister Osca Laponda, Tanzania Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ionel Ciuca, Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, former Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, Juri Ratas, president of the Parliament of Estonia, Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte and International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol.
He is also scheduled to hold talks with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
Kishida has said the controversial state-sponsored ceremony for Abe would serve as an important opportunity to communicate with other countries, but no incumbent leaders of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations will attend the funeral on Tuesday.
Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, was fatally shot by a gunman during an election campaign speech in early July. In Japan, opposition to the former leader's state funeral has been mounting given his divisive political stances and various scandals as well as the cost of the ceremony.
Japan and the United States, along with Australia and India, have recently shown they are keen to strengthen cooperation with Indo-Pacific democracies. The four countries have formed the Quad partnership to counter China's growing clout in the Asia-Pacific region.
Abe is believed to have promoted the "Indo-Pacific" concept designed to urge democratic nations in the region to bolster relations.
The Japanese government said that around 4,300 people are likely to join the state funeral for Abe in Tokyo, including roughly 700 people representing more than 200 countries, regions and international organizations.
Abe's state funeral will be only the second for a former prime minister in the post-war period following one held for Shigeru Yoshida, who in 1951 signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty that allowed Japan to regain its sovereignty.
Still, holding a state funeral for a former premier in Japan has no legal basis. The government has estimated allocating over 1.6 billion yen of taxpayers' money for Abe's funeral, but the total cost could balloon, triggering a public backlash.

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