A rightwinger protesting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision not to visit war-related Yasukuni Shrine was arrested Thursday on suspicion of intimidation for sending his severed left pinkie to Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo, police said.
Yoshihiro Tanjo, 54, a senior member of a rightwing group in Okayama Prefecture, allegedly sent the finger in an envelope, which also contained a letter of protest and a DVD that recorded his act of finger-severing, on Aug. 16, the day after the anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, police said.
Tanjo, of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, is suspected of committing the act in protest over Abe’s failure to visit the contentious war shrine in Tokyo on the anniversary.
Abe did not pay tribute at Yasukuni Shrine to show diplomatic consideration to Japan’s Asian neighbors. Yasukuni enshrines the nation’s war dead, as well as Class-A war criminals.
On Monday, the LDP reported the incident to police. The act constitutes a case of intimidation against the LDP employee who opened the envelope, they said. Police arrested Tanjo after the LDP filed a criminal complaint.
The man, who surrendered Saturday to Kurashiki Police Station, has told police he enclosed his finger in the letter because he thought sending only the letter would not be taken seriously, according to the officials.
Severing one’s own finger is a traditional yakuza ritual that is usually performed as a form of punishment or atonement. But as in the latest case, some rightwingers cut off their fingers to demonstrate their resolve in an extreme manner.
However, the ritual has apparently lost its significance as the yakuza grow more sophisticated and increasingly involved in legitimate business activities.