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Thousands flock to pay last respects to Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, after assassination

Funeral held for Shinzo Abe
Crowds gather to say final farewell to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 01:51

Tokyo — Thousands of people lined the streets of Japan's capital city on Tuesday to bid a final farewell to the country's longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe. The retired leader was assassinated Friday as he made a campaign speech for another candidate in the western city of Nara.

The murder with a homemade gun has shocked Japan, where firearms are highly controlled and gun violence is rare.

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer said the hearse carrying Abe's remains brought him one last time past the parliament he'd served as a lawmaker, and then his old headquarters, the prime minister's official residence.

Colleagues, including Japan's current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, were among the dignitaries who waited to say a last goodbye.

The vehicle, center right, carrying the body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves the Zojoji Buddhist temple after his funeral in Tokyo, Japan, July 12, 2022.  Hiro Komae/AP

Earlier, Japan's political elite gathered along with Abe's family and close friends for a Buddhist service. The funeral at Tokyo's Zojoji Temple was a private affair, but thousands of people came down anyway to get as close as they could to pay their respects.

Patiently they waited to pray and pay tribute to their country's longest serving premiere. Among them was Keiko, who brought her daughter Ryoka to share in what she felt was an historic moment for their country.

"He did a lot of things for the Japanese people," she told CBS News of Abe.

People line up to offer flowers and prayers for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the Zojoji Buddhist temple prior to his funeral on July 12, 2022, in Tokyo, Japan. Eugene Hoshiko/AP

A proud nationalist and conservative, Abe also had a playful side. He was confident on the world stage and grew to be a political giant at home, and Palmer said Japan was still reeling from his loss.

The man who's charged with killing him, Tetsyua Yamagami, told police he bore a grudge against Abe over the former leader's rumored connections to the Unification Church.

The "Moonies," as they're commonly known, are regarded by many as a cult, and Yamagami told police that he blamed them for bankrupting his mother.

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