Police officers investigate at the site where a man who was protesting a state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set himself on fire
Police officers and firefighters investigate at the site where a man who was protesting a state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set himself on fire, near Prime Minster Fumio Kishida's official residence in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: KYODO
national

Japanese man sets himself on fire in apparent protest at Abe's state funeral

55 Comments
By Mariko Katsumura and Elaine Lies

A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister's office on Wednesday in an apparent protest at the government's decision to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July, media reported.

The man was taken to hospital suffering burns to his entire body, while a police officer who tried to extinguish the flames was also injured.

The man, in his 70s, was unconscious when first found but later told police that he had deliberately doused himself in oil, media said. A letter about Abe's state funeral and the words "I strongly oppose it," was found nearby.

Wednesday would have been Abe's 68th birthday.

"I have heard that police found a man who had suffered burns near government offices, and I'm aware that police are investigating," chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference.

Abe, Japan's longest serving prime minister who stepped down in 2020 citing ill-health, was gunned down at a campaign rally on July 8. His state funeral is set for Sept 27, with some 6,000 people from Japan and overseas set to take part.

Opposition to the event has been growing due to revelations after Abe's killing of links between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), of which he was a powerful member, and the controversial Unification Church. The suspect in Abe's death has said the church bankrupted his mother and he felt the former prime minister supported it.

Links to the Unification Church, founded in South Korea in the 1950s, have grown into a huge problem for current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the LDP since they emerged following Abe's killing. The LDP earlier this month said a survey showed nearly half of 379 LDP lawmakers had some form of interaction with the church.

Public sentiment was narrowly in favor of a state funeral at the time it was announced, shortly after Abe's death, but opinion has shifted sharply.

Numerous polls show a majority of Japanese now oppose the ceremony, helping to send Kishida's support plummeting. A poll by the Mainichi Daily conducted at the weekend showed his support at 29%, down six percentage points from late August - a level that analysts say makes it difficult for a prime minister to have enough support to carry out his agenda.

Support for the LDP fell 6 points to 23%, the Mainichi said.

Kishida has defended his decision repeatedly, but a vast majority of voters remain unconvinced, also questioning the need to hold such an expensive ceremony at a time of growing economic pain for ordinary citizens.

The latest government cost estimate is 1.65 billion yen, which includes security and receptions.

In 2014, two men set themselves on fire in separate incidents in protest at Japan's shift away from postwar pacifism under Abe's administration. One of the men died.

© Thomson Reuters 2022.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

55 Comments
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Now if the rest of those who are against this memorial service, should look at this, get off their butts, and hit the streets in protest!

Dont let this man's protest be for naught!

6 ( +49 / -43 )

Damn! And I thought I was vehemently opposed to the state funeral! Respect to this man!

Now if the rest of those who are against this memorial service, should look at this, get off their butts, and hit the streets in protest!

Dont let this man's protest be for naught!

Just to clarify- we don't all have to burn ourselves though right?

going out into the street with a verbal opposition is enough, no?

-7 ( +31 / -38 )

Yubaru - Now if the rest of those who are against this memorial service, should look at this, get off their butts, and hit the streets in protest! Don't let this man's protest be for naught!

What a great idea. Thousands of protesters setting themselves on fire. Seriously?

3 ( +35 / -32 )

Not sure this is a worthwhile form of protest. It is fine to strongly oppose the funeral, however once it is done nobody will even care. It would have been better to stand with a sign that says "I strongly oppose Abe's funeral". Maybe, shout it out a bit. That would have been better, I believe. I strongly oppose this manner of using fire.

19 ( +31 / -12 )

I feel for this gentleman.

This is what happens in a country where people do not have have sufficient avenues to air grievances:

Also, the media fails miserably to air disparate points of view.

The citizens of Japan are being ignored.

Put the matter to a referendum and allow the people of Japan to decide where their tax money goes!

0 ( +33 / -33 )

Pretty futile protest. Setting himself alight is going to change the government's mind?

-8 ( +13 / -21 )

In Japan, you can demonstrate, and protest. Post on social media. Write to the media. Leave comments on JT. Write to your politician.

You do not have to set yourself on fire.

There cannot be a referendum for every government decision.

-8 ( +18 / -26 )

Imagine if Abe wasn't shot. Would the Unification Church be in the news? Would its ties with politicians be out in the open? Sometimes the actions, often very dramatic actions of one man can make a huge difference.

15 ( +29 / -14 )

Wow! Amazing! Up in flames?

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

They protest which is legal yes, but in fact they just only cause massive additional costs to the society. Police, transportation, garbage removal, or in this case emergency transportation, hospital costs , rehabilitation etc. And what for? The decision has been made and the event is held anyway.

-17 ( +6 / -23 )

Probably the wrong demonstration to make, but I do like the man’s fire……….er desire****

Good to see someone actually standing up to the BS in public though. We need more of this kind of attitude, and put it on blast, and show the world.

But it doesn’t matter, since the voting public here will vote LDP, no matter what garbage they do……

1 ( +13 / -12 )

The right to protest and demonstrate is protected by the constitution.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

So let me get this straight, the guy burned himself because of abes funeral which was caused by the unification Church and Korean involvement.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

So let me get this straight, the guy burned himself because of abes funeral which was caused by the unification Church and Korean involvement.

No, he burned himself because he's crazy and that's all he'll be remembered for.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

darwin...

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

He's still alive whats the good of that he didn't do the job properly I take it maybe a few more gallons would have helped...you have to be some special nutjob to do that to yourself if protest over Abes funeral..

-24 ( +1 / -25 )

Perhaps, he was suffering from a certain mental illness that arises when people are unable to confront their anger as a result of conditions which they perceive to be unfair.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Sad way to demonstrate desperation from a member of the public that felt the public opinion was being ignored by the government.

One problem is to insist on doing something that the public is vehemently opposed to, another problem is to do it without even attempting to explain that decision and just go with it no matter how much people demonstrate their disagreement.

People inside Japan may understand the desperation that made this man act in this way, but overseas this may be a huge surprise, a sad event that may help other countries understand how the issue is being seen locally.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

@Tom San

Perhaps, he was suffering from a certain mental illness

You think so....

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Imagine if Abe wasn't shot. Would the Unification Church be in the news? Would its ties with politicians be out in the open? Sometimes the actions, often very dramatic actions of one man can make a huge difference.

excellent point

-9 ( +8 / -17 )

What a ridiculous reason to set yourself on fire. On second thought, I can't think of any good reason, ridiculous or otherwise.

1 ( +14 / -13 )

A bit of an overreaction….

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Just to clarify- we don't all have to burn ourselves though right?

No I dont advocate self-immolation!

going out into the street with a verbal opposition is enough, no

YES! Would love to see a million people march in front of Kishida's residence, and have it blow up all over the world news wires!

Just as this has hit the news wires around the world already!

-9 ( +9 / -18 )

Imagine if Abe wasn't shot. Would the Unification Church be in the news? Would its ties with politicians be out in the open? Sometimes the actions, often very dramatic actions of one man can make a huge difference.

I have stated on a number of occasions that if there is ANY silver-lining in the cloud of Abe's assassination, it is this!

I totally agree the actions of one man, in this case here, and the one guy who shot Abe, will and have caused shock waves throughout the country and world.

If REAL change occurs because of it, then their deaths and deeds will not be for naught!

(I do not mean the actions of the man who killed Abe, but that maybe Abe's death will mean something. In life he was a problem for sure, but his death may have meaning, if the above mentioned change occurs!)

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

What an idiot. No one knows who he is. He's just sitting in a hospital getting treated for serious burns. Can't imagine the hospital staff think he's worth saving. Waste of resources when you consider the 99.9% of burns victims who don't set themselves on fire on purpose.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Sucks that Japan generally has convinced the public that protests are a disturbance of the peace / akin to rampant rioting instead of a public display of the public/a groups ideals and defiance against what a government or group is doing

Japan loves holding examples of extreme moments above the public’s head without context. Demonstrating is still bad due to the student riots from what… the 60’s. Nothing will change unless you make it known it needs to. Same thing happened when they changed the constitution, people demonstrated and they changed it anyway and everyone just went home.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

No I dont advocate self-immolation!

I know mate! Just having a laugh!

YES! Would love to see a million people march in front of Kishida's residence, and have it blow up all over the world news wires!

Just as this has hit the news wires around the world already!

hear hear!

I have stated on a number of occasions that if there is ANY silver-lining in the cloud of Abe's assassination, it is this!

That and he won't be able to influence J politics anymore

I totally agree the actions of one man, in this case here, and the one guy who shot Abe, will and have caused shock waves throughout the country and world.

If REAL change occurs because of it, then their deaths and deeds will not be for naught!

(I do not mean the actions of the man who killed Abe, but that maybe Abe's death will mean something. In life he was a problem for sure, but his death may have meaning, if the above mentioned change occurs!)

agree

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

Pretty futile protest. Setting himself alight is going to change the government's mind?

People forget that when images of Vietnamese monks set themselves ablaze to protest the US military incursions onto Vietnamese soil it set the newswires ablaze and helped shift global sentiment against the Vietnam War...since then the US has been careful to always assemble a coalition with other nations before attacking other countries, i.e. Iraq (see also today's story about sailing the Taiwan strait astride a Canadian ship).

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

The ones that should suffer is those self serving politicians, not the ordinary citizens

3 ( +9 / -6 )

FreshmeatToday  04:02 pm JST

The ones that should suffer is those self serving politicians, not the ordinary citizens

"Ordinary" citizens don't set themselves on fire. For any reason.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

How much is this state funeral gonna cost? Amount equal to net-worths of one or two JP households? GB probably spent like 100 times that amount on queen's funeral.

There are far bigger, unnecessary government projects going on and nobody is batting an eye.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

I'm sorry - I'll go against the grain here and say I do not support self-immolation as a form of protest. All other forms - street marches etc are fine.

This man is against public wastage of funds for Abe's State Funeral. Ironically he will cost the taxpayer tens of millions of yen and take up scarce medical resources after his act today.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Well, let him protest whatever way he chooses to do so.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

When will the LDP and it's partner the UC start listening to the PEOPLE?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

massive additional costs to the society. Police, transportation, garbage removal,...........emergency transportation, hospital costs, rehabilitation etc

Economic activities, all of which count towards the country’s GDP. I know, totally nuts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Now if the rest of those who are against this memorial service, should look at this, get off their butts, and hit the streets in protest!

Dont let this man's protest be for naught!

Man, you're on fire today. LoL.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

This man setting himself on fire makes me believe this cause means much more than just simple government spending on ceremonies. It's a statement that everyone is fed up and I like it. Hopefully this gives the people more inclusion in upcoming political interventions.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Definitely an over reaction to a comparatively unimportant political decision. So some public money will (in the opinion of some or even a majority) be wasted, it’s not like that doesn’t happen all the time. A dead politician will be given an honour some people do not think he deserves, so? The world isn’t going to end. Neither reason is justification for self immolation.

That the Japanese government does not give sufficient weight to the opinion of their electorate between elections is self evident, but the solution to that is in the hands of the people, don’t vote for them, not giving yourself excruciating burns.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

""Ordinary" citizens don't set themselves on fire. For any reason."

But extraordinary ones do.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

""Ordinary" citizens don't set themselves on fire. For any reason."

But extraordinary ones do.

you spelled mentally ill wrong.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

This is the second time a Japanese man has set himself on fire to protest Abe; the first time was in 2014 when a man immolated himself on a pedestrian walkway near Shinjuku station, to protest Abe's plan to allow the SDF to participate in collective self-defence despite article 9 of the Constitution.

Even dead Abe is still causing pain and suffering to Japan, let alone the outrageous cost to taxpayers of his Nippon Kaigi Matsuri.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Whatever the man's mental state, he was triggered by the arrogance of power, the refusal of LDP nabobs to heed the voice of the people and the egregious waste of taxpayers' money to feather their own nests. Self-immolation is not what people would demand of anyone, but his self-sacrifice was the cri-de-coeur from the depths of quiet desperation felt by millions of slighted citizens. The tragic act of self-immolation sends a symbolic message to counter the LDP's symbolic self-serving elevation of Abe into the Pantheon of nationalist politicians

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Ha! This guy's been added to the list of biggest losers in the history blah. No one cares

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The victim hurt no one but himself, after Abe's state funeral and the bill for it is paid, the guy will still be in the burn unit feeling the pain as the rest of Japan totally forget about the event and move on with their lives.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Meaningless protest.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Very little reporting on this incident in the Japanese media - nothing on NHK.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bummer for the police officer who was injured trying to extinguish this deranged idiot.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sorry to say - this will do nothing to sway the powers that be. He could have stood outside at the same stop for 12 hours a day with a giant sign, a la Greta Thunberg style, and gotten the same results (and still been alive to enjoy a beer or bowl of Japanese curry).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan VioletSep. 21  12:58 pm JST

Not sure this is a worthwhile form of protest. It is fine to strongly oppose the funeral, however once it is done nobody will even care. It would have been better to stand with a sign that says "I strongly oppose Abe's funeral". Maybe, shout it out a bit. That would have been better, I believe. I strongly oppose this manner of using fire.

He's only hurt, possibly killed himself over an issue like this. There's better ways to protest something that are more effective, like taking it to the streets.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Another unnecessary tragedy. Now two are dead for no good reason.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The majority of Japanese oppose a state funeral for a corrupt and much despised ex politician, yet they do it anyway, that's democracy for you. A lone protester set's himself on fire, that's Japan for you.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Despite what the LDP says for their own political survival, non biased historians view Abe as a terrible leader in Japan like trump and Boris Johnson. They all were buddies that rose at the same time, ruined their countries, and retreated in disgrace.

This is memorial for Abe will probably not go well.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Randy Johnson

You're a scream. I wish I had said that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And a police officer was injured trying to save the idiot. All for a protest that means absolutely nothing, except to this guy who got a bit hot under the collar.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They all were buddies that rose at the same time, 

I sincerely doubt Mrsrs. Johnson, Trump and Abe knew each other before becoming national leaders with Mr. Trump especially living in a completely different world of business than the other two. You make it sound like they were life long friends who came up together and that is not the case at all. They arose separately through three very different societies and political traditions. I would be very surprised if any of them were even aware of each other before becoming very senior in their respective political parties. Mrsrs. Abe and Johnson were probably aware of Donald Trump but had no contact with him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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