A man sets himself on fire amid a protest against Shinzo Abe’s state funeral plans

A man set himself on fire near the Japanese Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo early Wednesday morning to protest the state funeral of former leader Shinzo Abe.

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

A note was found supposedly written by the man saying, “Personally, I am absolutely against Abby’s funeral.”

Tokyo authorities confirmed the accident but declined to comment further, including a report that a police officer was in the fire.

The suspected sacrifice underscores a growing wave of protests against the funeral of Abe, one of the most divisive leaders in postwar Japanese politics.

Abe has come under more public scrutiny for his revisionist view of war history and security policies and his authoritarian approach and nepotism, which have often been criticized as authoritarian. More protests are expected in the coming days, including the funeral next week.

The incident is also an embarrassment to Japanese police, who have beefed up security for an event expected to be attended by about 6,000 people, including US Vice President Kamala Harris and other dignitaries.

The Japanese are growing dissatisfied with Prime Minister Kishida

The Japanese police have also been blamed in part for not providing adequate protection for Abe, who was killed by a gunman who approached him from behind while giving a speech at the outdoor campaign in July.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is in New York for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly of world leaders. He delivered a speech on Tuesday in which he expressed disappointment over the Security Council’s failure to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine due to Moscow’s permanent veto and called for reforms that would allow the United Nations to better defend global peace and order.

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

The suspect in Abe’s assassination reportedly believes that his mother’s donations to the church destroyed his family. The LDP said nearly half of its deputies had links to the church, but party officials denied links between the party as an organization and the church.

Kishida said that Abe deserves to be honored at a state funeral as Japan’s longest-serving leader in post-WWII Japan and for his diplomatic and economic achievements.

Critics said the decision was made undemocraticly and is an inappropriate and costly use of taxpayer money, with some saying that when he decided to hold a state funeral, Kishida was aimed at appeasing Abe’s party faction and bolstering his power.

As a result, support ratings for the Kishida government have plummeted since Abe’s assassination.

A family funeral for Abe was held at a Buddhist temple in July. The state funeral will be held next Tuesday at the Budokan martial arts arena in Tokyo.

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