SEOUL – A South Korean court Thursday turned down an extradition request from Tokyo for a Chinese national who served a 10-month jail sentence for an arson attack on the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
The court said Liu Qiang, 38, should now be sent home to China.
Liu was arrested last January for hurling Molotov cocktails at the Japanese mission that left burn marks on the outer wall but caused no other damage.
Tokyo had sought his extradition in connection with a separate arson attack that also caused minor damage at Tokyo’s Yasukuni war shrine in December 2011.
The shrine is dedicated to 2.5 million Japan war dead, as well as key war criminals, and is often seen as a symbol of the country’s wartime aggression.
Liu told investigators that he attacked the Japanese Embassy because he was angry at Tokyo’s refusal to come to terms with the “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during the war.
He said his late maternal grandmother, who was Korean, was forced into wartime sexual slavery in China for Japanese soldiers.
Some 200,000 women and girls from the Korean Peninsula and other parts of Asia were turned into sex slaves at Japanese army brothels, according to historians.
Liu’s case resulted in a diplomatic tug-of-war between Tokyo and Beijing, with Japan insisting he be extradited for the Yakusuni Shrine attack and China arguing for his repatriation.