TOKYO (AP) – A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Wednesday in an apparent protest against a state funeral planned next week for former leader Shinzo Abe, officials and media 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 dousing himself with oil, Kyodo news agency reported.
A note was found on him that read: “Personally, I am absolutely against” Abe’s funeral, Kyodo reported.
A Tokyo Fire Department official confirmed that the man had set himself on fire on a street in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki government district and was alive when taken to hospital by ambulance, but declined to provide further details, including the man’s identity, motive or condition. , citing the sensitivity of what is a police problem.
Police called it an attempted suicide and declined to provide further details because the case did not involve criminal intent. The police also refused to comment on the report that a police officer was involved in the fire.
The incident highlights a growing wave of protests against the funeral of Abe, who was one of the most divisive leaders in postwar Japanese politics because of his revisionist view of 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 on the day of the funeral next week.
It is also an embarrassment for police, who have stepped up security at the event, which is expected to be attended by around 6,000 people, including US Vice President Kamala Harris and other dignitaries.
The police they are also partly blamed for insufficient protection of Abe, who was killed by a gunman who approached him from behind while he was giving a public speech in July.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is in New York for the annual meeting of world leaders of the UN General Assembly. He gave a speech on Tuesday in which he expressed disappointment at the Security Council’s failure to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because of Russia’s permanent veto and called for reforms that would allow the UN to better defend global peace and order.
A planned state funeral for Abe has become increasingly unpopular among Japanese people as more details emerge about the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s and Abe’s ties 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 that his mother’s large donations to the church had ruined his family. LDP said that nearly half of its MPs had ties to the church, but party officials denied ties between the party as an organization and the church.
Kishida said Abe deserved the honor of a state funeral as Japan’s longest-serving leader since World War II and for his diplomatic and economic achievements.
Critics said it was decided undemocratically and was an inappropriate and expensive use of taxpayers’ money. Kishida is said to have decided to hold a state funeral to please Abe’s caucus and strengthen his own power. Kishida’s government’s support rating has weakened amid public discontent over his handling of the party’s church ties and funeral plans.
A family funeral for Abe was held at a Buddhist temple in July. A state funeral is scheduled for next Tuesday at the Budokan martial arts arena in Tokyo.