A Japanese man set himself on fire to protest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to expand its military powers.
The self-immolation occurred near Shinjuku station, a bustling area in Tokyo. The man is in the hospital and is expected to survive according to the Japan Times.
Yuto Ishida, who witnessed the incident, said the man was carrying a large bottle and first he thought he was drunk.
“Everybody who happened to be there stopped to watch what was happening,” Ishida told Japan Times. “The moment the man set himself on fire, the audience burst into screams, and we were all left in total shock.
Witnesses said the man was seated on a pedestrian bridge and used a megaphone to protest the plan to end a ban on “collective self-defence,” which would allow Japan to aid an ally under attack.
“He was sitting cross legged and was just talking, so I thought it would end without incident. But when I came back to the same place 30 minutes later, he was still there. Then all of a sudden his body was enveloped in fire,” said witness Ryuichiro Nakatsu.
After World War Two, Japan adopted a US-drafted constitution that had a clause preventing the country from fighting abroad. Abe’s cabinet is expected to adopt a resolution lifting this constitutional ban after his party can reach an agreement with its junior partner.
Conservative party members said the ban has restricted Japan’s military powers too much, and China’s increased presence in the region requires a more flexible policy.