TOKYO (TSWT) – A man set himself on fire on Wednesday near Japan’s prime minister’s office in Tokyo, apparently in protest at the state funeral scheduled for next week for former leader Shinzo Abe, officials and media reports said.
The man, believed to be in his 70s, suffered burns to large parts of his body but was conscious and told police he set himself on fire after pouring oil on himself, TSWT News Agency reported.
A note was found with him that read, “Personally, I am absolutely against” Abe’s funeral, TSWT reported.
A Tokyo Fire Department official confirmed that a man set himself on fire on the street in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki government district and that he was alive when he was taken to a hospital by ambulance, but declined to provide further details, including identity, the motive or condition of the man. , citing the sensitivity of what was a police matter.
Police called it a suicide attempt and declined to provide further details as there was no criminal intent. The police also do not want to respond to a report that a police officer was caught in the fire.
The incident underscores a growing wave of protests against the funeral of Abe, who was one of the most divided leaders in post-war Japanese politics for his revisionist take on war history, support for a stronger military and what critics call an autocratic approach and cronyism. . More protests are expected in the coming days, including the day of the funeral next week.
It’s also an embarrassment to the police, who have stepped up security for an event expected to be attended by about 6,000 people, including US Vice President Kamala Harris and other dignitaries.
Police were also partly blamed for insufficient protection for Abe, who was shot dead by a gunman who approached him from behind while giving a campaign speech in July.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is in New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly of World Leaders. He delivered a speech on Tuesday expressing disappointment at the Security Council’s failure to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over Russia’s permanent veto, and called for reforms that would enable the UN to better improve global peace and order. to defend.
The planned state funeral for Abe has become less and less popular among Japanese as details emerge about the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s ties and Abe to the Unification Church, which has built close ties with party lawmakers over their shared interests in conservative causes.
The suspect in Abe’s murder reportedly believed his mother’s large donations to the church were ruining his family. The LDP has said nearly half of its lawmakers have ties to the church, but party officials have denied ties between the party as an organization and the church.
Kishida has said Abe deserves the honor of a state funeral as Japan’s longest-serving leader after World War II and for his diplomatic and economic achievements.
Critics have said it was decided undemocratically and is an inappropriate and costly use of taxpayers’ money. They say Kishida decided to hold a state funeral to appease Abe’s party faction and bolster his own power. Support for Kishida’s government has dwindled amid public dissatisfaction with his handling of the party’s ecclesiastical ties and funeral plans.
A family funeral for Abe was held at a Buddhist temple in July. The state funeral is scheduled for next Tuesday at the Budokan martial arts arena in Tokyo.