Man burns himself to death in Tokyo park, leaves note protesting shift to collective self-defense

Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report

A man who was apparently opposed to the government’s move to loosen restraints on the Self-Defense Forces has died after setting himself on fire in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park, police said.

Investigators said they consider the case a suicide, noting the man left a protest note and a video camera, through which he recorded his self-immolation on Tuesday.

The note left by the unidentified man was addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and to the heads of both chambers of the Diet, NHK reported.

The note voiced opposition to the Abe government’s plan to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or the right of a nation to come to an aid of an ally under armed attack, NHK reported.

It also reportedly said the man was against the proposed relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, according to police sources.

Police responded to an emergency call alerting them of a fire in Hibiya Park, Chiyoda Ward, at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Officers and firefighters found a man whose clothes were in flames. They put out the fire and took him to a hospital, but he was pronounced dead shortly afterward, police said.

The incident follows another self-immolation near Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station in July. Some reports suggested the man who lit himself on fire in that instance was protesting Abe’s decision earlier in the month to allow Japan to exercise collective self-defense by reinterpreting the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.