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A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo. Kyodo News/AP

Man sets himself on fire in Tokyo in apparent protest against Shinzo Abe state funeral

The planned state funeral has become increasingly unpopular as more details emerge about the former leader’s links to the Unification Church.

A MAN SET himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo in apparent protest against the funeral of former leader Shinzo Abe.

According to officials and media reports, the incident happened early today – ahead of the state funeral that is planned for next week.

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

A note apparently written by the man was found with him that said, “Personally, I am absolutely against” the funeral for the late former PM, Kyodo reported.

A Tokyo Fire Department official confirmed a man set himself ablaze on the street in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki government district but declined to give further details, including the man’s identity, motive or condition, citing the sensitivity of it being a police matter.

embedded268935818 The man was taken to a hospital following an apparent protest against a planned state funeral for the assassinated former leader Shinzo Abe. Kyodo News / AP Kyodo News / AP / AP

Tokyo police refused to comment, including on a report that a police officer was caught in the fire.

The planned state funeral for Abe has become increasingly unpopular among Japanese as more details emerge about the ruling party’s and the former leader’s links to the Unification Church, which built close ties with Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians over their shared interests in conservative causes.

The suspect in Abe’s assassination reportedly believed his mother’s donations to the church ruined his family. The LDP has said nearly half its politcians have ties to the church.

A state funeral is a rare event in Japan, but Prime minister Fumio Kishida has said Abe deserves the honour as Japan’s longest-serving post-World War II leader and for his diplomatic and economic achievements.

Critics have said it was decided undemocratically and is an inappropriate and costly use of taxpayers’ money. They say Kishida aimed to please Abe’s party faction and buttress his own power.

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