The Associated Press: Monday. April 1. 2002; 1:08 AM
Japanese Activist Commits Suicide
TOKYO -- A Japanese campaigner for Palestinian rights committed suicide by setting himself on fire in a Tokyo park to protest the Israeli security clampdown in the Middle East. a fellow activist said Monday.
Takao Himori. 54. poured gasoline over his body and set himself alight Saturday. said his friend Masao Adachi.
Police spokesman Koji Hata confirmed that a man burned to death over the weekend in the park. but refused to reveal his identity.
"People watching the cherry blossoms suddenly saw flames shoot up and called the police." Hata said.
Himori. a member of the activist group "Voice." frequently participated in hunger strikes and candlelight vigils in support of the Palestinian cause. said Adachi.
After firefighters extinguished the flames. they asked Himori if the burns were self-inflicted. Adachi said. quoting a police report shown to family members.
"He nodded in assent. and died." Adachi said.
A number of Japanese activist groups held rallies Saturday. celebrated by Palestinians as "Land Day." to protest Israel's crackdown on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Israeli forces kept Arafat trapped in his Ramallah office for a fourth day Monday. as they stepped up incursions in the West Bank.
Several Japanese ultra-leftist groups carried out terrorist attacks in support of Palestinian liberation during the 1970s.