South Korean Arrested in Japan Over Yasukuni Toilet Blast

Updated on
  • 27-year-old man was arrested after returning to Japan
  • Yasukuni Shrine sparks resentment in Asia over past militarism

A South Korean man was arrested in Japan in connection with an explosion last month at a Tokyo shrine that is seen by some in his country as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression.

Jeon Chang Han, 27, was taken into custody after returning to Japan from South Korea on Wednesday morning. He has denied that he set off an explosive device in a public toilet on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine on Nov. 23, public broadcaster NHK said. No one was injured in the blast.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment to reporters in Tokyo on the matter, saying the case was still under investigation. A South Korean Foreign Ministry official, who asked not to be named in line with ministry policy, said the nation was monitoring how Japan conducts the investigation and would offer consular assistance for the detained man.

Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have been damaged by visits of leaders including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the shrine, which honors 14 wartime leaders convicted as Class A war criminals, along with millions of war dead. While relations have begun to improve, recriminations continue over territorial disputes and differing views of Japan’s invasion and occupation of much of the region in the first half of the 20th century.

Police found a bundle of steel pipes that appeared to contain explosives in the toilet, along with batteries and a timer, according to NHK. Jeon was seen prior to the blast on security camera footage in the area carrying a backpack and another bag, the Sankei newspaper said on its website. Jeon returned to South Korea after the incident.

A DNA test on a cigarette butt found in the toilet matched that of possessions of Jeon’s in the hotel room in which he was staying, according to Fuji News Network.

Jeon, whose parents divorced when he was young, lived alone without much contact with neighbors after serving in the South Korean air force for more than five years, according to Yonhap News Agency.