A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Wednesday in an apparent protest against the state funeral planned next week for former leader Shinzo Abe, officials and media reports said.
According to Kyodo News, the man was in his 70s and had suffered burns to large areas of his body. However, he was still conscious. He told police that after pouring oil on himself, he lit himself on fire.
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He was also given a note that stated, “Personally, I am absolutely against” Abe’s funeral, Kyodo reported.
A Tokyo Fire Department official confirmed that a man set himself afire 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 give further details, including the man’s identity, motive or condition, citing the sensitivity of what was a police matter.
The incident was deemed attempted suicide by police, but they refused to provide further information as the case did not involve criminal intent. The police also refused to discuss a report that said a officer had been caught in the flames.
Take a look at the aftermath —
Japanese media say a man set himself on fire near the prime minister’s office, apparently to protest the government’s decision to hold a state funeral for former premier Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated earlier this year https://t.co/JFQTxnpcc4 pic.twitter.com/gjefQNqehu
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 21, 2022
It is the latest in a series of protests against Abe’s funeral. Abe, who was divisive postwar Japanese political leader because of his revisionist history of the war, support of a stronger army, and what critics label an autocratic approach, and cronyism, has been the focus of growing opposition to the event.
There will be more protests in the coming days.
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This is also embarrassing for the police who have increased security to ensure that approximately 6,000 people attend, which includes Kamala Harris, U.S. vice president, and other dignitaries.
Partially to blame for Abe’s death was insufficient police protection. A gunman approached Abe from behind while he was giving a speech on outdoor campaigns in July.
Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan is visiting New York City for the U.N. General Assembly meeting. He gave a speech Tuesday expressing disappointment over the Security Council’s failure to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine because of Russia’s permanent veto and called for reforms that would allow the U.N. to better defend global peace and order.
The planned state funeral for Abe has become increasingly unpopular among Japanese as more details emerge about the governing Liberal Democratic Party’s and Abe’s links to the Unification Church, which built close ties with party lawmakers over their shared interests in conservative causes.
The suspect in Abe’s assassination reportedly believed his mother’s large donations to the church ruined his family. While the LDP claimed that almost half of its members have links to the church in their constituencies, party officials denied any connections between the party and the church.
Kishida has said Abe deserves the honor of a state funeral as Japan’s longest-serving post-World War II leader and for his diplomatic and economic achievements.
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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 please Abe’s party faction and buttress his own power. Support ratings for Kishida’s government have weakened amid public dissatisfaction over his handling of the party’s church ties and the funeral plans.
Abe received a family funeral in July at a Buddhist Temple. Next Tuesday, the state funeral will be held at Tokyo’s Budokan martial art arena.
This article was contributed by the Associated Press
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