Man Sets Himself Alight In Tokyo In Anti-Government Protest

man sets himself on fire in anti-governement protest, Shinjuku, Tokyo

While the news that a man had attempted to burn himself to death in protest against recent debates over Japan’s right to collective self-defense spread quickly in English-language media, in Japan, the story was largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Still, Japanese netizens used social media to express their views on the matter, with many taking to Twitter to comment on the lack of mainstream coverage on the incident, which took place in central Tokyo. As some point out, it was only the digital version of the Asahi Shimbun that paid the story sufficient attention, while national broadcaster NHK apparently did not cover the incident at all.

From Asahi Digital:

Was Man Planning To Burn Himself To Death Outside Shinjuku Station? Or Was It A Protest Against Collective Self-Defence?

At just past 2pm on June 29, a man dowsed himself with a fluid that appeared to be gasoline, and set fire to himself with a lighter on a pedestrian bridge close to the south exit of the JR Shinjuku Station in Nishi Shinjuku 1 Chome, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. The man was rushed to hospital; however, he was left severely injured with burns to his face and limbs. Immediately prior to the incident he had apparently been giving a speech opposing the authorisation of collective self-defence.

According to Shinjuku police, the man, who was around 60 years old, was wearing a suit. He had two plastic bottles filled with a fluid that appeared to be gasoline, as well as a megaphone, and had climbed up to the roof of a pedestrian bridge approximately 10m above the ground. At around 1pm he started giving a speech. The fire was extinguished by members of the fire service’s emergency response team.

The scene of the incident was a bustling area crowded with restaurants and department stores, and at one time almost 300 people had gathered there, creating a disturbance.

Comments from Twitter:

momo noki:

Glad about that. @soraoto: Today there was a man at Shinjuku who was planning to burn himself to death in protest so they say. According to latest information, the man’s life was saved and he is apparently conscious.


We have the power to get rid of the administration of the times without doing things like this. If he felt that he had been pushed into a corner and there was no other way, then that is merely a delusion in the Japan that we live in today.


If that had been gasoline, then he wouldn’t have burned – at first there would have been a momentary explosion. The surrounding police would also probably have been enveloped by it.

ディーン@( ´∀`):

Huh?! He burned that much and he’s still alive?! Wow…the human body really is an amazing thing (Amaze)


In China if someone burns themselves to death everyone just thinks “He was protesting against the government with his own life”, but when it happens on our own doorstep in Japan, we just ignore it. People just say “Oh, he’s mental”…Ultimately, do we all really share the same national pro-establishment feelings?


Why are things like that happening in a country where people have free speech? (´・ω・`)


Kinda feels like this hasn’t really been reported in the press…is it just me?

ガード下のゲーナ :

On “Mr. Sunday” on Fuji TV they were saying “he was shouting something”. When the interviewer panicked and said “He was talking about the right to collective self-defense” Takeda denied it, saying that it wasn’t consistent. Awful.

Shichiro Miyashita :

Finally this was reported on Asahi Digital.


Why isn’t NHK reporting news about the official decision to authorise collective self-defence?


My own personal feeling about all this is that despite the fact that there have been some pretty severe criticisms that relate back to the actions of the extreme left-wing that have been going on since the time of the US-Japan Security Treaty (1960), given this man and those who agree with him it seems that although a lot of time has passed since the Anpo we have made no progress at all.

Runners-81☆StopTPP☆ :

☆ We don’t really need those question marks, Mr. Asahi – report things properly! ☆

宮台隆 :

Well, since even when someone as famous as Mishima [Japanese author Mishima Yukio, committed seppuku at the Ministry of Defence in Tokyo in 1970] does something like this and it had no effect, if a member of the general public does it there will also be no effect. The media and individuals who originally opposed the right to collective self-defence will probably use this incident politically, but I don’t think that it’s very meaningful at all.

阿部 元気 | ソーシャルリサイクル :

It kinda pisses me off that even NHK didn’t broadcast anything about this. No matter what the reason, isn’t it important to understand that there are people who think like this?

イケてる明太子 きゃー! プチプチよっ! :

It’s protest terrorism to sacrifice your own life to make a political statement. I’m against the right to collective self-defence, but we shouldn’t end up living in a world where we achieve our political goals through means like this. Don’t die, don’t kill.

Akira Fukunaga:

So the guy survived…

A collection of pictures tweeted during the incident can be found over at Naver Matome.

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