Korean arrested in Yasukuni Shrine explosion

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Korean arrested in Yasukuni Shrine explosion

Japanese police arrested a 27-year-old Korean man suspected to be linked to an explosion inside a restroom at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine last month as he tried to re-enter Tokyo Wednesday morning.

The Tokyo police at around 11 a.m. arrested the man surnamed Jeon, thought to have been captured in CCTV footages on the day of the blast, as soon as he arrived at Haneda Airport, Japanese media reported.

On the morning of Nov. 23 - a national holiday in Japan - an explosion occurred inside the men’s restroom at the Yasukuni Shrine, which caused a small fire that damaged the ceiling and walls. There were no casualties.

Jeon’s return to Tokyo was detected by Japanese authorities through a passenger information system that flags the arrivals of individuals of concern, Kyodo News reported.

After Jeon, in sunglasses and wearing a blue jacket, arrived at Haneda Airport, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police officials asked him to voluntarily accompany them for questioning at a station in Kojimachi in Chiyoda Ward, near the shrine.

The Yasukuni Shrine is controversial because it honors Japan’s war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals, and is considered a symbol of the country’s militarism.

Japanese media reported after the Yasukuni explosion that police suspected foul play. It was reported last week that a Korean man carrying a backpack and a bag was captured in CCTV footage obtained by Tokyo police around the time of the explosion. Batteries, a digital timer and pipes containing substances presumed to be gunpowder were found in the men’s restroom.

Through security camera footage, police traced the man as he left the shrine to a nearby hotel.

He was said to have arrived in Japan on Nov. 21 and stayed for three days. He returned to Korea on the afternoon of the explosion.

Jeon was reported to have payed a visit to the shrine the day before the explosion as well.

He was arrested for trespassing on premises for unlawful purposes, according to Kyodo, citing investigative sources. Jeon has reportedly denied the allegations.

Fuji News Network reported that police confirmed that DNA tests on cigarette butts found in the restroom and his hotel matched.

He apparently did not tell the Korean government of his plans to re-enter Japan. It’s not known why he returned to Japan Wednesday.

The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the afternoon confirmed that Japanese police had reported that a Korean national was arrested, and that a consular official had been dispatched to the station.

“We are figuring out the details and paying attention to the results of the investigation and will provide him with necessary consular services,” said the ministry in a statement.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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