Hokkaido politician upbraided for tweets about protester who set himself on fire

Kyodo

Hokkaido Prefectural Assemblyman Masaru Onodera was reprimanded Thursday for making offensive comments about a man who set himself on fire to protest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to loosen constraints on the Self-Defense Forces earlier this week.

The 50-year-old Liberal Democratic Party politician received a verbal reprimand from local LDP leader and fellow assembly member Katsuhiro Kakiki, who said the comments posted on the microblogging site Twitter were inappropriate.

One of the tweets Onodera posted Monday stated: “The man’s failed suicide attempt, which has caused so much trouble to so many people, is nothing but an act of stupidity.”

A day earlier, the protester, a man in his 60s, set himself alight near Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku Station.

The man was seated on a girder above a pedestrian bridge near the station’s south exit when he poured liquid, presumably gasoline, over his body and used a cigarette lighter to set himself on fire.

Onodera called the suicide bid “extremely annoying behavior in a public space, and an obvious crime.”

Kakiki said that Onodera’s online comments — and responses to other people who criticized or applauded him — included inappropriate expressions, and warned him to correct his behavior.

Despite the warning, Onodera continued to stress his “rightness” by retweeting supportive comments or saying that his comments were over-analyzed.

He argued that his point about suicide attempt in a public place “could encompass people who are not related (to politics),” but that went unnoticed.

Before he set himself alight, the man used a loudspeaker for about an hour to denounce Abe’s drive to reinterpret the Constitution.

The man incurred serious injuries but failed to slow the Cabinet’s decision to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. The reinterpretation of war-renouncing Article 9 was authorized on Tuesday.