TOKYO-A man set himself on fire near the Japanese prime minister’s office on Wednesday after expressing opposition to a state funeral for assassinated ex-premier Shinzo Abe, local media said.

Police, the prime minister’s office and the cabinet office all declined to comment on the reports. TV Asahi said the man set himself alight after telling police he was opposed to the planned ceremony for Abe, which is scheduled for next week. The television station said a police officer who tried to extinguish the fire was injured in the process.

Kyodo news agency and other outlets said police were called to the scene around 7:00 am (2200GMT) after reports a man was “engulfed in flames”.

The agency said a note was found near the man, expressing his opposition to the funeral. An AFP reporter at the site several hours later saw a scorched patch of grass and bush, with police and media nearby. Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot dead on July 8 while campaigning, and a publicly funded state funeral honouring him will be held on September 27.

But state funerals are rare in Japan, and the decision has been controversial. Recent polls show more than half of the public is opposed to the idea.Abe was Japan’s best-known politician, and remained a prominent public figure after resigning for health reasons in 2020.

He was campaigning for ruling-party candidates in upper-house elections in the Nara region, when he was shot by a man who allegedly believed the former leader had ties to the Unification Church.

The assassination prompted shock and international condemnation, but a decision by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to authorise a state funeral has proved contentious.

Abe was far from universally popular, and many opposed his hawkish nationalist views or were angered by persistent allegations