Shinzo Abe funeral: Japanese man ‘sets himself on fire’ in protest at slain prime minister’s state funeral

Tokyo, Japan

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

“I heard that before 7:00 this morning the police found a man with burns near the cabinet office, and I know the police are investigating,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters on Wednesday.

The man told police he was against plans to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this month, CNN’s Asahi reported.

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

Shinzo Abe was the Prime Minister of Japan, serving from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020 before resigning for health reasons.

He died of excessive bleeding in July, aged 67, after being shot while giving a public campaign speech.

The news of his assassination reverberated 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 Abe’s state funeral on September 27, and the ceremony is expected to cost $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 the disproportionate use of public funds for the event, while others point to Abe’s occasionally divisive politics.

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

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