SEOUL – A Chinese man suspected of an arson attack last December on Yasukuni Shrine says he was motivated by “antihumanitarian acts by the militaristic Japan,” according to Yonhap news agency.
Court officials told Yonhap that 38-year-old Liu Qiang made the remarks as the start of his trial Thursday in the Seoul High Court to determine whether he should be extradited to Japan to face charges.
Liu is being held in South Korea after serving a 10-month term in a Seoul prison for hurling Molotov cocktails at the Japanese Embassy in January to protest Japan’s refusal to apologize for past war crimes.
Tokyo formally asked Seoul in May to hand him over to face trial over the Yasukuni attack in Tokyo. Seoul later received an informal request from China to repatriate him.
“I tried to resist the antihumanitarian acts by the Japanese militarists, not to pursue my own interest,” Liu was quoted as saying Thursday. “I did that for the dignity of the wartime sex slaves and the South Korean and Chinese people.”
He said his anti-Japanese sentiment was fueled by his family’s suffering under Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, as his South Korean maternal grandmother served as a sex slave for Japanese soldiers during the war and his great-grandfather was tortured to death for his protests.
“If I am sent to Japan, I will face very unfair or strict trials,” Liu said, appealing to be allowed to be extradited to his home country.
Yonhap said Liu’s lawyer also called on South Korea to deny the Japanese request on grounds that “his status can be infringed by the Japanese authorities due to his political views.”
The prosecution, however, said it sought the court’s approval as Japan is trying to bring him to justice “not for any political reasons but solely on suspicion of (being behind) the arson attack.”
The parties concerned in the case agreed to hold two more sessions, with the next one scheduled for Dec. 6.
Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to 2.5 million Japanese war dead, as well as Class-A war criminals convicted after the war.