Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga returned home on Friday after representing Solomon Islands at the state funeral accorded to former Japanese Prime Minister late Shinzo Abe on Tuesday (27 September) in Tokyo, Japan.
In Tokyo, Hon. Maelanga join thousands of attendees, including representatives from over 217 countries, territories and international organizations at the state funeral.
Around 6,000 overseas and domestic dignitaries attended the funeral service at Nippon Budokan in Central Tokyo including past and present leaders of Japan’s legislative, judicial and administrative branches of power, as well as various representatives from each branch, past and present members of parliament, local government representatives, foreign dignitaries, and national business and community leaders.
The memorial service lasted approximately one and half hours — about half the length of the memorial service held for Shigeru Yoshida in 1965, the last time a former prime minister was honored with a state funeral.
At a brief meeting with Hon. Maelanga on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sincerely thanked the Government and People of Solomon Islands for the respect and sympathy conveyed to the government and people of Japan on the passing of their former leader.
“Your presence at the state funeral is symbolic of the respect you have for us and a gesture of the strong bond of friendship that Japan and Solomon Islands continue to enjoy,” Prime Minister Kishida told Hon. Maelanga.
In response, Hon. Maelanga expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Government and People of Solomon Islands for the invitation to attend and the warm reception offered to him and his delegation by the Government and People of Japan in Tokyo.
He said the friendship between Solomon Islands and Japan continues to grow to new levels and it is appropriate that Solomon Islands is represented at the ceremony to express its condolences to the family of late Abe and the Government and People of Japan at their loss.
Hon. Maelanga immediately resumed his role as Acting Prime Minister on arrival from Brisbane in the absence of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare who is currently on overseas engagements.