A state-funded memorial service for former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who died at the age of 101 in November last year, was held on Saturday, with some universities flying their flags.
The event, arranged by the central government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, came amid criticism by academics over whether it was appropriate for the government to request national universities and other official institutions to fly flags at half-mast and observe a moment of silence on the same day.
The joint memorial service also drew criticism from the opposition camp over the hefty cost of the event.
After observing a moment of silence, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who attended the memorial service at a Tokyo hotel, cited the accomplishments of Nakasone, describing the Japanese leader between 1982 and 1987 as having "executed the necessary reforms and contributed to international peace and prosperity."
Nakasone "significantly raised the international profile of our country," Suga said in an address, referring to the Cold War-era and a time when Japan was experiencing trade friction with the United States.
Nakasone was known for his close relationship with late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, with whom he built a robust bilateral alliance.
On the domestic front, Nakasone also led efforts to privatize state-owned railway and telecommunication companies and pushed for administrative and fiscal reform in favor of a smaller government.
The government has allocated about 96 million yen ($910,000) from the reserve fund in the fiscal 2020 national budget for the cost of the memorial service.
The state and LDP have evenly split the cost, which totals nearly 200 million yen.
On Saturday, a Japanese flag was flown at the Tokyo Institute of Technology's Ookayama Campus.
Ahead of Saturday's event, Japan's education ministry has requested national universities and other official institutions to join in mourning, prompting some academics to raise concerns over whether it was proper to do so.
School officials have said the request was made by education minister Koichi Hagiuda on behalf of the central government in a letter dated Tuesday.
The letter was sent to the heads of national universities and independent agencies under their jurisdiction, as well as educational associations. The request was that they do what they thought best in accordance with the contents of the letter.© KYODO