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A Day After Abe’s assassination, Campaigns Make a Final Push


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TOKYO — Candidates for parliamentary election in Japan on Saturday rushed from rally to rally, hoping to appeal to voters during the final hours of the campaign period, just a day after the assassination of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest serving prime minister, sparked fears the campaign would be disrupted.

Mr. Abe was shot on Friday while campaigning for a candidate for the Upper House of Parliament in the elections.

But on Saturday, it appeared to be political business as usual. White vans bearing large photos of politicians, and blaring their names from loudspeakers, rode through the streets. Candidates fist-bumped with supporters and posed for selfies.

From the backs of roving vans, from street corners and train station entrances, candidates from the country’s many political parties tried to sell voters on their differing visions for Japan’s future. They campaigned as if they agreed on at least one thing: The violence a day earlier should not be allowed to undermine the country’s elections.

In the hours immediately after Mr. Abe’s shooting in the city of Nara, it seemed that the campaign period — which was slated to end Saturday night — might finish early as the country wrestled with the death of one of its most powerful and influential political figures.

But on Friday evening, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in a short eulogy for Mr. Abe, announced that he intended to continue campaigning on behalf of his Liberal Democratic Party, saying that to do otherwise would be to surrender to violence.

He traveled amid heightened security on Saturday to two prefectures to support candidates for the party. While he addressed Mr. Abe’s death in remarks to voters, he largely focused on election issues, like how to revive Japan’s economy and address rising prices.

For opposition parties, the political calculus of campaigning after the assassination was more complex. As a critical figure in the Liberal Democratic Party, which is conservative, Mr. Abe had often served as a foil for liberal politicians.

Speaking in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya neighborhood, Taku Yamazoe, 37, a member of Japan’s Communist Party who is seeking a second term, denounced Mr. Abe’s murder.

“We will not tolerate the silencing of free speech,” he told supporters. “Violence is not democracy.”

But supporters of opposition candidates said they were worried that the shooting would lead to a wave of sympathy votes for the ruling party, worsening their already slim election odds.

In Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza district hundreds gathered to cheer on Akiko Ikuina, a former pop idol running as a candidate for the Liberal Democratic Party.

It was her last election stop, and Mr. Abe had been scheduled to attend.

Standing on the roof of a van, Ms. Ikuina, 54, fought back tears as she urged her supporters to turn out to vote on Sunday to honor the former prime minister’s legacy. “Those of us who are left over,” she said, “must help make Abe’s vision for our country come true.”


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