Fire at Yasukuni Shrine seems to be ‘foul play’

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Fire at Yasukuni Shrine seems to be ‘foul play’

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Firefighters and police officers inspect the south gate of the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, Monday, after an explosion was reported at the shrine. [AP/newsis]

Japanese media reported an explosion Monday in a public restroom at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including men executed as war criminals. No one was injured.

Yasukuni has been the target of criticism from Japan’s neighbors, including China and Korea, which suffered World War II atrocities and aggression.

Fire fighters received a call to put out a small fire Monday morning that damaged the ceiling and walls of the restroom, said an official from the Tokyo Fire Department who spoke on condition of anonymity. But the fire was out by the time they arrived. He declined to elaborate.

It was unclear what caused the explosion. TBS TV news said police suspect foul play, and batteries and wiring that may be part of an explosive device were found. Police will be reviewing footage on security cameras for clues about who might be behind the explosion, TBS said.

Tokyo metropolitan police declined comment as the case was still under investigation. The person in charge of media at Yasukuni was out and not immediately available for comment.

The shrine is a focal point for tensions with Japan’s neighbors over the country’s aggression before and during World War II. Some Japanese lawmakers have insisted on making official visits in the name of patriotism, while other lawmakers say such visits glorify Japan’s historical mistakes.

Emperor Akihito has not visited Yasukuni. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also avoided making official visits over the last two years.

While views on the shrine have divided the Japanese public, it holds emotional significance for many because during the war soldiers promised each other they would reunite at Yasukuni if they died.

Many families and tourists visit Yasukuni and Monday was a national holiday. The shrine has a museum that pays homage to those who died in Japan’s wars. AP

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