Four South Korean men were taken into police custody Monday on suspicion of stealing a Buddha statue from a temple in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, local police said.
The four men, whose ages range from 47 to 70, allegedly committed several thefts of local cultural assets as a team, the police said. Their immediate charge is the theft Monday morning of a Buddha statue from a temple in the town of Mitsushima on the island, which is located in the Sea of Japan midway between the two countries.
The 11-cm-tall statue is designated as the city's cultural asset.
The theft was initially reported by a monk of the temple, the police said. Then the police spotted the four men at a nearby port and arrested them after finding the stolen statue among their belongings.
In recent years, Tsushima's Buddha statues have become the targets of South Korean thieves. In February 2013, a South Korean court ordered the return of two stolen statues to Tsushima after they were taken from a shrine and a temple on the island.