Photograph: Kyodo News via AP Photo

Man Sets Self on Fire on Japan Bullet Train; Services Halted

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A man committed suicide by self-immolation on a bullet train carrying about 800 people in Japan, in an act that left one woman dead and 26 people injured.

The man died after drenching himself in oil and setting himself on fire in a toilet in the front car of the train, according to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Kyodo News reported he was a 71-year-old man from Tokyo, and the woman who died from smoke inhalation was about 50 years old.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the top government spokesman, said it was unlikely to have been a terrorist act. Police have started an arson investigation, Kyodo said.

Central Japan Railway Co., the operator of the line, initially suspended all high-speed services between Tokyo and Osaka, though trains started running with delays shortly after 2 p.m.

The bullet train, or shinkansen, service for Osaka stopped between Yokohama and Odawara stations at about 11:30 a.m. after smoke was seen coming from the front car, said Daisuke Kaji, a spokesman for JR Central.

The operator halted all bullet trains on the route. The passengers were kept on board until about 2 p.m. before being taken to nearby Odawara Station to disembark.

A train driver put out the fire, a transport ministry official said by phone, asking not to be identified, citing ministry policy. The man who killed himself was reported by Kyodo to have given money to a woman in her 60s immediately before setting himself on fire and told her to escape.

Japan’s government has set up a communications center to deal with the incident.

The shinkansen hasn’t had a single death from an operations-related accidents since coming into service in 1964.

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