Japanese man ‘sets himself ablaze’ to protest Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

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Public broadcaster NHK News said a man in Japan was taken to hospital after setting himself on fire near the prime minister’s office for protesting the state funeral of Shinzo Abe.

The 70-year-old man, who is yet to be identified, had burn marks all over his body and a police officer who tried to douse the fire was also injured.

The incident happened early Wednesday in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district, where most of the country’s government ministries and DIET, or parliament, buildings are located.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters, “I heard that the police found a man who was burned near the cabinet office before 7 a.m. today and I know the police are investigating.”

According to the NHK report, he was unconscious when police first found him, but later told police that he drowned himself in oil before setting it on fire.

As Kyodo News reports, a letter about Mr Abe’s state funeral – scheduled for September 27 – with the words “I strongly oppose this” was found nearby.

The government is yet to confirm whether the man had burnt himself in the protest. The man’s current condition remains unknown.

The Japanese government had announced that it would conduct state funerals for the public at an estimated cost of up to $12m due to the heavy security and reception fees for hosting foreign dignitaries.

Abe was the country’s longest-serving prime minister and chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He was assassinated on 8 July while delivering a campaign speech.

World leaders mourned and condemned his death in a country with a minimal record of political violence and gun crime, but many called on officials to be lenient on the man suspected of murder.

State funerals are not an established practice in Japan and are performed only for members of the royal family. However, it was also done for former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1967.

Abe’s event has been criticized by the public in recent months because of the cost of making elaborate arrangements.

Recent polls have shown that most people in Japan are unhappy with the spending while others oppose Abe’s sometimes divisive politics.

Abe’s death has also sparked talks about links between him and a religious group, which began after the arrest of suspected shooter Tetsuya Yamagami in South Korea.

Mr Yamagami has alleged that he was furious over Abe’s alleged ties with the Unification Church, which has further escalated ties with politically conservative groups and leaders not only in Japan but also in the US and Europe.

The Unification Church has faced accusations of unethically recruiting people and brainwashing them into massive charities since the 1980s, Yamagami said, leaving his family destitute because his mother donated the savings to the church.

Japanese man ‘sets himself ablaze’ to protest Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

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