Japan: Man sets himself ablaze to protest former PM Shinzo Abe being given state funeral

The planned state funeral for Abe has become increasingly unpopular among Japanese as more details emerge about the governing party’s and Abe’s links to the Unification Church

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 09:33 AM IST
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Police inspect the scene near the prime minister’s office in Tokyo where a man is reported to have set himself on fire on Wednesday | AP

A Japanese man set himself on fire near the office of the country's prime minister on Wednesday, apparently in protest to the Japanese government's decision to grant former PM Shinzo Abe a state funeral.

The man, believed to be in his 70s, sustained burns on large parts of his body but was conscious and told police that he set himself on fire after pouring oil over himself, Kyodo News agency reported. The man was taken to a hospital.

The longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history, Abe was assassinated on July 8 this year, after being shot while delivering a campaign speech at Yamato-Saidaiji Station, Nara. He was supporting fellow LDP party member Kei Satō for the House of Councillors election.

A 41-year-old man named Tetsuya Yamagami, a former JMSDF member who served for three years from 2002 to 2005, was arrested at the scene and later confessed to local police. Yamagami stated that he held a grudge against the Unification Church and shot Abe because "the religious group and Abe were connected".

State funerals are not widely held in Japan, and protesters are reportedly upset that as much as 1.65bn yen (US$11.4m) would be spent on the public mourning event.

Local media reported that the man had voiced his opposition to the state funeral to nearby police officers before setting himself alight. Hand-written notes found near the man also voiced the same message.

Abe and his family were known to have long-standing ties to the Unification Church, dating back to his grandfather Kishi Nobusuke; Abe himself had held speeches in support of the religious movement.

According to research by Nikkan Gendai, 10 out of 20 members in the Fourth Abe Cabinet had connections to the Unification Church.

Yamagami, Abe's assassin, said that he resented the fact that his mother was brain-washed by the religious group and went bankrupt.

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