Japanese Man Sets Self on Fire in Rare Protest

Thought to be railing against Tokyo's move to bolster defense forces
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 29, 2014 9:13 AM CDT
Japanese Man Sets Self on Fire in Rare Protest
Investigators and firefighters work the scene where a man set himself on fire, on a pedestrian walkway at Tokyo's busy Shinjuku railway station, Sunday, June 29, 2014.   (’–Ž?‚?‚?‚?)

A man set himself on fire at Tokyo's busy Shinjuku railway station today in what appears to be a rare violent political protest. The man, who appeared in his 50s or 60s, was taken to the hospital after suffering serious injuries, said Daiji Kubota, an officer at the Shinjuku police station. He said the man's identity and the reason for the self-immolation was under investigation. Footage of the incident on Twitter and other social media showed a man clad in a suit and tie sitting on a small mat along the metal framework above a pedestrian walkway with two plastic bottles of what looked like gasoline beside him.

Witnesses said the man spoke through a megaphone to protest the government's moves to change Japan's defense policy, doused himself with gasoline, and set himself alight as hundreds watched from below and from nearby buildings. Television reports showed firefighters pulling the man down onto the pedestrian bridge walkway and using hoses and a fire extinguisher to put out the fire before loading the victim into an ambulance. Japan's Cabinet is expected on Tuesday to approve a proposal calling for the right to "collective self-defense," which would allow Japan to play a more assertive role in international security. Critics say the shift undermines the war-renouncing Article 9 of Japan's Constitution, and opposition groups have staged constant but peaceful protests. (More self-immolation stories.)

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