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Japan mourns Shinzo Abe

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People in Japan are saying goodbye to Shinzo Abe, their former prime minister who was assassinated last week. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has the view in Tokyo.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: This is Zojoji, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, where a wake and funeral were held for Shinzo Abe today. People are placing flowers in front of a picture of Shinzo Abe underneath the statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Thirty-five-year-old Keigo Okada was one of those laying flowers. He said Abe made important changes for his country.

KEIGO OKADA: He had a good policy about national security or economics. Yeah, especially national security.

KUHN: Do you think that Japan is now less safe because of what happened?

OKADA: It's still very safe country, I think.

KUHN: A woman who would only give her first name, Reiko, also said she was thankful for Abe's security policies, but she realized that not everyone else felt that way.

REIKO: I thought lots of people in Japan didn't like him very much, but you see so many people give him flowers and so many people mourning at the moment. What I discovered was that Abe was much more respected than I'd expected. And that makes me really happy.

KUHN: A hearse carrying Abe's body and his widow, Akie, left Zojoji and went on a tour of the places that were important to Abe in life. Crowds gathered at the parliament, the prime minister's office and the ruling party's office to send him off. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Tokyo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ERIC LAU'S "STAR TREKKING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.