Man sets himself on fire in Japan protest

·2-min read

A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister's office an apparent protest at the government's decision to hold a state funeral for former premier Shinzo Abe.

The man was taken to hospital on Wednesday suffering burns to his entire body, while a police officer who tried to extinguish the flames was also injured.

The man, in his 70s, was unconscious when first found but later told police he had deliberately doused himself in oil, media said.

A letter about Abe's state funeral with the words "I strongly oppose it" was found nearby.

Police declined to confirm the incident, which took place on what would have been Abe's 68th birthday.

Abe, Japan's longest-serving premier who stepped down in 2020 citing ill-health, was gunned down at a campaign rally on July 8.

His state funeral on September 27 is expected to attract 6000 people from Japan and overseas.

Opposition to the event has been growing due to revelations linking Abe's Liberal Democratic Party to the controversial Unification Church.

The suspect in Abe's death has said the church bankrupted his mother.

Links to the Unification Church, founded in South Korea in the 1950s, have become a huge problem for current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the LDP.

The LDP earlier this month said a survey showed nearly half of 379 LDP lawmakers had some form of interaction with the church.

Public sentiment was narrowly in favour of a state funeral at the time it was announced, shortly after Abe's death, but opinion has shifted sharply.

Numerous polls show a majority of Japanese now oppose the ceremony and support for Kishida has plummeted.

Voters have questioned the need for an expensive ceremony at a time of growing economic pain for ordinary citizens.

The latest government cost estimate is 1.65 billion yen ($A18 million), which includes security and receptions.

In 2014, two men set themselves on fire in separate incidents in protest at Japan's shift away from postwar pacifism under Abe's administration. One of the men died.