Man sets himself on fire in Japan in apparent protest of Shinzo Abe funeral

TOKYO — A man set himself on fire near Japan’s prime minister’s office in Tokyo early on Wednesday, officials and media reports said, in apparent protest against the planned state funeral for former leader Shinzo Abe next week.

The man, believed to be in his 70s with burns to most of his body but was conscious, told police he set himself on fire after pouring oil on himself, Kyodo news agency reported. The man was taken to hospital.

Kyodo news agency said a note, apparently written by the man, was found on him, saying “personally, I am absolutely against” Abe’s funeral.

A Tokyo Fire Department official confirmed that a man set himself on fire in the streets of Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki government district, but declined to provide further details, including the man’s identity, motive or condition, citing the sensitivity of police matters.

Tokyo police declined to comment, including on reports that a police officer was killed in the fire.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is in New York for the annual meeting of world leaders of the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking on Tuesday, 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 enable the United Nations to better defend global peace and order.

Abe’s planned state funeral has become increasingly unpopular among Japanese as more details emerge from the ruling party and Abe’s relationship with the Unification Church, which has forged with LDP lawmakers over their shared interests in conservative causes close relationship.

The suspect in Abe’s July assassination reportedly believed his mother’s donations to the church had ruined his family. The LDP has said nearly half of its MPs have church ties.

State funerals are rare events in Japan, but Kishida said Abe deserved the honor as Japan’s longest-serving post-World War II leader and his diplomatic and economic achievements.

Critics say it was an undemocratic decision, an inappropriate and costly use of taxpayer funds. They say Kishida’s purpose is to please Abe’s party and consolidate his power.

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