Man sets himself on fire in Tokyo to protest state funeral planned for former leader Shinzo Abe

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A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo early Wednesday, apparently in protest at the state funeral planned for former leader Shinzo Abe next week, 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.

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A note apparently written by the man was found with him that read, “Personally, I am absolutely against” Abe’s funeral, TSWT reported.

Police officers investigate where a man protesting a state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set himself on fire
Police officers and firefighters investigate the site where a man protesting a state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set himself on fire, near Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan Sept. 21, 2022, in this photo taken by TSWT.

TSWT via Reuters


A Tokyo Fire Department official confirmed that a man set himself on fire on the street in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki governmental district and that he was still 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.

Tokyo police declined to comment, including a report that a police officer was caught in the fire.

The alleged sacrifice underscores a growing wave of protests against the funeral of Abe, who was one of the most divisive leaders in post-war Japanese politics for his revisionist view of war history, security policy and his opinionated approach and cronyism, often criticized as autocratic. . More protests are expected in the coming days, including the day of the funeral next week.

The incident is also an embarrassment to Japanese police, which 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.

Japanese police were also partly accused of insufficient protection of Abewho was shot dead by a gunman who approached him from behind when he was making a campaign speech outside of 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 more details emerge about the ruling party’s ties and Abe with the Unification Church, which has built close ties with Liberal Democrat party lawmakers over their shared interests. in conservative goals.

The suspect in Abe’s murder reportedly believed his mother’s 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 that in deciding to hold a state funeral, Kishida was intended 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.

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