Shinzo Abe has been Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, but recent polls show that more than half of the public oppose the celebration.
Japanese media reported that a man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo in apparent protest against government plans to hold a state funeral for former leader Shinzo Abe later this month.
Asahi TV said the man set himself on fire early Wednesday morning and was taken to hospital with burns all over his body. A police officer who tried to put out the fire was also injured.
Kyodo News and other outlets said police were called to the scene at around 7 a.m. (22:00 GMT) after a man was reported to be “on fire.” It added that a letter opposing Abe’s state funeral was found nearby.
The police, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office declined to comment on the reports.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was killed while campaigning for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on July 8. A publicly funded state funeral will be held in Tokyo on September 27, with about 6,000 people from Japan and abroad. to attend.
But state funerals are rare in Japan, and the decision is controversial. Recent polls show that more than half of the public is against the event.
The opposition is linked in part to the increasing exposure of links between the LDP and the controversial UC. The suspect in Abe’s death said the organization had bankrupted his mother and he felt the former prime minister supported her.
The Unification Church was founded in South Korea in the 1950s, and the Liberal Democratic Party said earlier this month that a survey showed that nearly half of the 379 lawmakers had some form of interaction with an organization described as a cult.
While the Japanese public was narrowly in favor of holding a state funeral at the time it was announced, shortly after Abe’s death, opinion changed sharply, hurting support for incumbent Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
A weekend poll by daily Mainichi put Kishida’s support at 29 percent, down six percentage points from late August – a level analysts say makes it difficult for the prime minister to get enough support to implement his agenda.
Mainichi said support for the LDP fell 6 points to 23 percent.
Kishida has repeatedly defended his decision, but the vast majority of voters remain unconvinced, also skeptical of the need to hold such an expensive ceremony at a time of increasing economic pain for many citizens.
According to its latest estimates, the government expects to spend 1.65 billion yen ($11.5 million) on the event at Budokan in Tokyo, a large venue for concerts and sporting events.
World leaders, including US Vice President Kamala Harris and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, are expected to attend.
Abe was Japan’s most famous politician and remained a prominent public figure after resigning for health reasons in 2020.
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