Japan asks foreign guests to wear masks at Abe state funeral

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National Police Commissioner General Yasuhiro Tsuyuki (2nd from L) inspects the area surrounding the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo on September 21, 2022, ahead of the state funeral of assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is being held there on September 27. ( TBEN) ==TBEN

Japan will ask foreign guests attending the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week to wear protective face masks to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government’s top spokesman said Thursday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno holds a press conference in Tokyo on September 22, 2022. (TBEN)

“We will call on 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,” Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a news conference.

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The request stands in stark contrast to Monday’s state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II in London, in which attendees, including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, attended without wearing face masks.

Although the number of new COVID-19 cases in Japan has decreased, the government has still urged the public to wear face masks in buildings and other facilities.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako arrive in London on September 19, 2022 for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey. (WPA Pool/Getty/TBEN)

Meanwhile, the government said about 4,300 people are expected to attend the service on Thursday at a hall in Tokyo. Of them, about 700 people are likely to travel to Japan from 218 countries, regions and international organizations. The figure includes 49 incumbent and former leaders from abroad.

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Of the 218, 117 will send participants from abroad, while the remaining 101 will be represented by individuals in Japan, such as embassy officials, according to the government.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo and Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc are among the list released by the government.

From China, Wan Gang, vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, will attend the ceremony, Matsuno said at another press conference in the afternoon.

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