No preferential treatment given over bid for Abe state funeral: gov't

No preferential treatment was given to the Japanese company that won the bid to put on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's state funeral, the chief Cabinet secretary said Monday.

Hirokazu Matsuno added that the Tokyo-based event organizer, Murayama Inc., -- which has been involved in some controversial government-sponsored events -- was the only firm to participate in the tender for the Sept. 27 state funeral of Abe, who was fatally shot by a lone gunman during an election campaign speech in early July.

Murayama has been criticized by the opposition bloc after it was revealed that the company had had meetings in the past with the Cabinet Office before the bidding process to host annual cherry blossom viewing parties held by Abe while he was in office.

"There is no fact that we have tried to favor a specific firm" on the occasion of the tender, Matsuno, the government's top spokesman, said at a regular press conference, with public opposition to the state funeral mounting at home.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also told reporters on Sunday that the tender was "done based on proper procedures."

Murayama won bids to organize cherry blossom viewing parties for five straight years from 2015, according to government bidding information. From 2017 to 2019, the company is believed to have held talks with the Cabinet Office before tendering a bid.

The firm made a successful bid of 176 million ($1.25 million) for organizing the state funeral of Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister. Abe, who died at 67, served as prime minister for around one year from 2006 and again from 2012 to 2020.

The government, meanwhile, has allocated 249 million yen of taxpayers' money for the state funeral, excluding expenditure for security and welcoming foreign dignitaries.

Kishida said late last month that the total cost will vary depending on the number of foreign guests attending the event, but his administration plans to present a figure as soon as possible.

© Kyodo News