Several hundred demonstrators in Tokyo are calling for the cancellation of the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He was the country’s leader for the longest time mortally wounded in a street campaign in July in the city of Nara.

Protesters have called Mr. Abe’s policies pro-military, noting his consistent efforts to increase defense spending and his close ties to the controversial Unification Church, which critics call a cult.

A state funeral will take place next Tuesday, but protesters are demanding it be cancelled.

Yoshiko Kamata, a part-time worker at the shop, said the protest was a good opportunity to send a message that Mr. Abe never stood with ordinary people.

She said: “Just because he’s dead, we’re not going to forgive Abe.”

Protests and marches against state funerals are taking place all over the country.

Anger flared Wednesday when a man in his 70s set himself on fire outside the prime minister’s residence to protest a state funeral, Japanese media reported. He was taken to the hospital conscious.

Protests in Kyoto. Photo: Kyodo/AP

About 62% of respondents in a recent poll by the Mainichi newspaper said they opposed holding a state funeral for Mr. Abe.

Opposition to state funerals is also linked to Mr Abe and ties between lawmakers from the party he leads, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church.

The suspect in the murder of former prime minister Tetsuya Yamagami has accused the church of impoverishing his family, according to police. In social media posts before the assassination, he accused Mr. Abe of supporting the group.

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A snapshot of Shinzo Abe on stage

State funerals are often held for emperors

In Japan, state funerals are historically reserved for the emperor.

The official public bill for the funeral is around ¥1.7bn (£11m), but experts say hidden costs such as security push the total up.

The decision to hold a ceremony in honor of the former prime minister was made by the cabinet and was not approved by the parliament. Some legal groups have challenged its legality.

Although Mr. Abe was loved by nationalists and many on the right for his protectionist and pro-market policies, he was reviled by many who want to keep the country’s pacifist constitution intact.

Mr. Abe’s private funeral was held on July 12, and about 6,000 guests are expected to attend the state funeral next Tuesday.

Yamagami is reportedly undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

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