TOKYO-In a black kimono Shinzo Abe’s widow Akie walked slowly, carrying her husband’s ashes in a silk-covered funeral urn. She placed it on a wide altar covered in white chrysanthemums. Above it hung a huge photo of Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. Only once before in Japan’s post-war history has a politician been given a state funeral - and Tuesday’s event to honour Abe has stirred huge controversy.

It drew thousands of guests - local and global leaders, notably from Japan’s closest allies. But it also faced a backlash as protesters marched against the decision to hold the funeral. It’s a day and an event that appears to have cut Japanese society down the middle. And it’s a sign of Abe’s complicated and often divisive legacy. The 67-year-old politician was assassinated in July - shot twice by a homemade gun. The killing shocked a country unused to gun crimes or political violence, triggering an outpouring of grief for a leader who had never been that popular. “Abe-San, thank you so much,” mourners shouted when they gathered to pay their respects in July - with his death.