Shinzo Abe’s funeral: Japanese man ‘set himself on fire’ in protest at state funeral for assassinated PM

Tokyo, Japan

A Japanese man in his 70s has been taken to a hospital in Tokyo after setting himself on fire near the prime minister’s office, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

“I heard that the police found a man with burns near the cabinet office this morning before 7 am and I know the police are investigating,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters on Wednesday.

CNN affiliate TV Asahi reported that the man told police he opposed plans to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this month.

Police are now gathering evidence from security cameras and eyewitnesses, TV Asahi said, adding that an officer who tried to put out the fire was injured and taken to hospital.

Shinzo Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, holding the position from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020 before resigning for health reasons.

He died in July of severe bleeding at the age of 67 after being shot while giving a public campaign speech.

News of his assassination was reported around the world and huge crowds gathered in the streets of Tokyo to pay their respects.

The Japanese government has announced that it will hold a state funeral for Abe on September 27, and the cost of the ceremony is expected to reach $12 million due to high security and reception fees for hosting foreign dignitaries.

Opposition to this move is growing. Some protesters resent what they see as an excessive use of public funds for the event, while others point to Abe’s sometimes divisive policies.

State funerals in Japan are usually reserved for members of the imperial family, although this honor was also given to former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1967.

Despite winning at the ballot box, Abe was no stranger to controversy. He was embroiled in numerous scandals during his career and sparked controversy with visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which contains the names of convicted war criminals and is regarded by China, North and South Korea as a symbol of Japan’s imperial military past.

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