Dirty box left at Korea consulate

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Dirty box left at Korea consulate

A suspicious box was discovered in front of the Korean consulate in Yokohama, Japan, over the weekend, with a note claiming it was left in retaliation for the fire in the Yasukuni Shrine men’s room last month.

The box, around 35 centimeters (14 inches) wide, 15 centimeters long and 5 centimeters high, was found in front of the consulate in Kanagawa Prefecture on Saturday morning.

A handwritten note on a white paper taped to the box read, “Revenge for the Yasukuni blast.” It was signed by a right-wing anti-Korean Japanese organization and had a gold medal-shaped sticker embossed with the words “Present for you.”

The consulate contacted the Yokohama Police Department, and its bomb disposal unit collected the box, concerned that it may contain explosives.

Instead, they found dried feces inside.

The consulate said that it has not been confirmed yet if they were human or animal feces.

The consulate said CCTV footage reviewed by police showed a man tossing the box over the consulate’s gate Friday afternoon. Police have not yet identified the man. However, his clothes were captured relatively clearly, and police are in the process of analyzing the footage. It has not been confirmed if the extremist organization was really behind the sending of the box.

The South Korean Embassy in Tokyo asked Japanese police to beef up security measures for all South Korean diplomatic missions as well as Korean nationals in the country. It advised Koreans to stay away from rallies held by extremist nationalistic organizations and the Yasukuni Shrine.

On Nov. 23, an explosion occurred inside a men’s restroom at the shrine, which caused a small fire that damaged the ceiling and walls. There were no casualties. Batteries, a digital timer and pipes containing substances presumed to be gunpowder were found in the restroom, and CCTV footage captured a suspicious man.

Last week, Tokyo police arrested a 27-year-old Korean man surnamed Jeon, suspected to be behind the Yasukuni blast, at Haneda Airport as he re-entered Japan from Korea on Dec. 9.

The Yasukuni Shrine honors Japan’s war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals. It is considered a symbol of militarism and glorification of Japan’s wartime aggressions and colonization.

This was not the first time the shrine was the target of such an attack, including an arson attack in December 2011 by a Chinese man.

Japanese police alleged that when they arrested Jeon last week, he was carrying a powdery substance, timer and batteries and that he may have been trying a second attempt at damaging the shrine.

In response to Japanese media reports that Korean customs procedures were lax, the Korea Airports Corporation, which manage Gimpo International Airport, where Jeon departed from, responded, “The powdery substance in a plastic bag possessed by Jeon was confirmed not to be an explosive substance.”

Officials said that it ran explosives trace detectors that indicated that the black powdery substance in Jeon’s possession was not an explosive, and he had been allowed to leave the country.

The feces-filled box is fanning concerns of increasing anti-Korean sentiment, as another round of talks over the issue of the Japanese military’s wartime sex slaves is scheduled for Tuesday in Tokyo.

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

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