Students freed after Japan Consulate protest

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Students freed after Japan Consulate protest

BUSAN - Six South Korean college students who were taken into police custody Monday after staging a protest over Tokyo’s export restrictions inside the Japanese Consulate in Busan were all released later that day, according to the Busan Dongbu Police Precinct on Tuesday.

The students, who belong to an activist group named the Busan Youth and Student Action Group, were detained at 2:35 p.m. on Monday for trespassing on the consulate premises and underwent questioning for eight hours before being released at 10:20 p.m.

The students admitted to some of the offenses, the police said.

“Students acknowledged parts of their wrongdoings. They were booked on charges of trespassing and will be additionally grilled before being prosecuted or not,” a police investigator said.

The young activists are accused of displaying placards condemning Japan’s export curbs on South Korea and shouting slogans, such as “Abe must apologize” in the consulate’s yard. They entered the Japanese mission earlier Monday through procedures for use of its library.

Police also booked one Busan civic activist accused of hindering the police crackdown on the student protesters and damaging police vehicles.

At the time of the protest, a coalition of 30 civic groups in the southern port city was holding a joint news conference in front of the consulate’s rear gate, condemning Japan for its export restrictions against South Korea and calling for a boycott of Japanese products.

After the incident the consulate reportedly sent emergency emails to Japanese nationals living in Busan, asking them to stay alert for protesters and tighten security around Japan-related facilities in the city.

Japan began applying the export curbs on South Korea for three key materials needed for the production of chips and displays on July 4 in an apparent response to Seoul’s handling of the issue of wartime forced labor. Tokyo is pushing to remove South Korea from a list of trusted buyers, which could negatively affect the supply of other key materials needed for making smartphones, televisions and other industrial materials.

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