Popular Singer’s Funeral Held Amid Nationwide Mourning
TOKYO (AP) _ Tens of thousands of people attended funeral services for popular singer Hibari Misora in eight cities today, and five of the country’s six television networks broadcast the Buddhist rites for up to four hours.
Hibari, a symbol for millions of Japanese of Japan’s postwar perseverance and reconstruction, died of heart failure on June 24. She was 52.
She was posthumously honored with the People’s Honor Award, a prestigious decoration previously awarded by the government to only five other celebrities.
Police said an estimated 72,000 mourners attended the services in Tokyo, Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu and Fukuoka.
About 42,000 people, including 100 who waited in line all night, attended the main funeral rites in Tokyo, burning incense and bowing their heads in prayer.
They included Education Minister Takeo Nishioka, who read a message of condolence. Twenty singers joined in singing a song written by Hibari.
Only one station, Japan’s public broadcasting network, the Japan Broadcasting Corp., did not broadcast the funeral services live.
When Hibari died four weeks ago, TV networks canceled their regular programs to broadcast film of her performances and discussions of her career by music and film industry greats.
During her lifetime, Hibari released 1,200 songs and sold about 68 million records. She also acted in several Japanese movies and plays.
She was little known abroad, except in China and Korea, because she seldom sang or played outside Japan.