South Korea assists suspected Tokyo shrine bomber

South Korean Foreign Ministry issues statement after 27-year-old man was arrested by Japanese police in connection with last month’s Yasukuni Shrine blast

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

South Korea said on Wednesday that it was “keeping a close eye” on a Japanese investigation into last month’s explosion at Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine, following the arrest of a man at a Tokyo airport earlier in the day.

The 27-year-old South Korean suspect – identified as Chon Chang Han -- was detained after returning to Japan from his home nation, before local authorities reported the matter to Seoul’s embassy.

“The government plans to provide him with the necessary consular services,” stated the South’s foreign ministry.

Japanese media were already speculating about the possible guilt of a South Korean national who was believed to have left the country.

Police confirmed that Chon was captured on security footage recorded at the Yasukuni Shrine on the morning of the blast.

No one was hurt as a result of what turned out to be a relatively minor explosion in a restroom, where officers apparently discovered equipment such as a digital timer, wire and explosive powder.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency cited unnamed investigative sources as saying that Chon has denied involvement in the incident. He is also suspected of visiting the shrine the day before the incident in preparation.

The shrine is a highly sensitive site, honoring Class-A war criminals among millions of war dead.

Given the suffering inflicted by Imperial Japan upon South Korea and China, both nations regularly condemn Yasukuni visits by local politicians.

One notable example was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to pay his respects there nearly two years ago.

Last month’s incident was not the first time that the shrine has come under threat, as a fire damaged one of its gates in 2011. A Chinese man was accused of being responsible, but South Korea refused to extradite him to Japan even after he was jailed following a subsequent attack on the Japanese embassy in Seoul.