It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in the early summer, albeit on a weekend marked by many protests against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial collective self-defense law changes. But the ordinariness and calm of the shopping in central Tokyo was broken by a shocking suicide (and at least, suicide attempt).
At around 1-2pm a man sat on the girders above a pedestrian footbridge near Shinjuku Station’s busy South Exit area with a megaphone and two bottles containing dark liquid. He wore a suit and sat on a small mat. He spoke into the megaphone for some time, announcing that he was going to kill himself in protest at the government’s push to involve Japan more in war.
He then apparently set himself on fire, as graphic pictures on social media are allegedly showing.
Details are very fuzzy at this time. He seemed to use some kind of gasoline or alcohol, and judging by his appearance from photos looks like he was in his sixties. This means he would remember Japan’s previous logistical involvement in America’s war in Vietnam in previous decades, which prompted mass protests and also at least one similar act self-immolation. And it goes without saying that this protester’s public suicide recalls those of the Buddhist monks in Vietnam in the 1960’s.
At the time of writing nothing has been reported in the mainstream media nor have any details about the victim’s name been announced. It is unknown if the man survived, though he was filmed being extinguished by the fire services after he fell off the girders onto the bridge below.
Update: The man (still unnamed) apparently survived and was taken to hospital with severe burns, but still conscious. The incident got some attention from mainstream media outlets but considering the publicness of the suicide attempt, not as much as we might expect.