Explosion hits con­tro­ver­sial Tokyo war shrine, no in­juries

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

TOKYO: A sus­pected ex­plo­sive de­vice dam­aged a bath­room at Tokyo’s Ya­sukuni Shrine yes­ter­day, but no one at the con­tro­ver­sial war me­mo­rial was hurt, of­fi­cials and news re­ports said.

Po­lice re­ceived re­ports of a loud bang and smoke ris­ing near the pub­lic bath­room in­side the shrine on Mon­day morn­ing, a spokesman said. Pub­lic broad­caster NHK said the small blast occurred as a larger-than-usual num­ber of peo­ple were vis­it­ing the shrine for an an­nual har­vest fes­ti­val. Po­lice found the ceil­ing and wall of the bath­room dam­aged and burned, NHK said, adding that they also found a bat­tery and wire there.

A bomb unit at­tended the scene and po­lice have now launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether the in­ci­dent was a tar­geted at­tack.

“For­tu­nately, no one was in­jured,” a shrine of­fi­cial said, adding that it had not re­ceived any threat in con­nec­tion with the explosion. The in­ci­dent came as Ja­panese au­thor­i­ties were beef­ing up se­cu­rity in the cap­i­tal af­ter the Paris at­tacks that killed 130.

“I was a bit sur­prised as (ter­ror­ism) just occurred in France,” a vis­i­tor to the shrine told NHK. A South Korean na­tional was charged two years ago for at­tempt­ing to set fire to the shrine, while a man was also ar­rested in De­cem­ber for sus­pected ar­son there, the broad­caster said.

The shrine hon­ours mil­lions of Ja­pan’s war dead, but also con­tro­ver­sially in­cludes sev­eral se­nior mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal fig­ures con­victed of war crimes. Vis­its to the shrine by se­nior Ja­panese politi­cians rou­tinely draw an an­gry re­ac­tion from Beijing and Seoul, which see it as a sym­bol of Tokyo’s mil­i­tary past. An at­tached mu­seum por­trays Ja­pan more as a vic­tim of US ag­gres­sion in WWII and makes scant ref­er­ence to the ex­treme bru­tal­ity of in­vad­ing Im­pe­rial troops when they stormed through Asia.

In Oc­to­ber, three state min­is­ters from Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s cab­i­net paid homage to mark the au­tumn fes­ti­val. The na­tion­al­ist Abe has vis­ited the shrine once dur­ing his time in of­fice, in De­cem­ber 2013. That sparked anger among Ja­pan’s neigh­bors and a diplo­matic slap on the wrist from the US, which said it was “dis­ap­pointed”. Chi­nese so­cial me­dia users were quick to laud the bomber. “I don’t know who blew it up, but they blew it up well,” read one com­ment on mi­cro-blog­ging site Sina Weibo, with an­other adding: “You blew it up well. That’s wor­thy of cel­e­brat­ing!” An­other user said: “If it were an­other place, I’d say ‘don’t let it hap­pen again’, but it’s Ya­sukuni, so I just laughed.” —AFP

TOKYO: A shrine worker puts up an um­brella as he walks past the po­lice of­fi­cers af­ter an explosion was re­ported at the shrine’s re­stroom at Ya­sukuni shrine in Tokyo yes­ter­day. —AP

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