SEOUL – South Korean police have strengthened security measures for Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho following last week’s knife attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, the country’s top police officer said Wednesday.
From now on, security officers will guard Bessho whenever he engages in activities outside the Japanese Embassy building, unlike before when security was only provided upon request by the embassy.
The security measure was mentioned in a report that Kang Sin Myeong, the National Police Agency commissioner, made to government officials and ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers on enhanced security measures for foreign missions and major foreign facilities.
Lippert was assaulted by 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, a South Korean ultranationalist and pro-Pyongyang civic activist, last Thursday during a breakfast at a lecture hall in downtown Seoul where he was scheduled to give a speech.
The U.S. envoy has since been released from hospital, having been treated for wounds that included an 11-centimeter-long, 3-cm-deep cut on his face for which he received about 80 stitches.
In 2010, the same assailant, who reportedly belongs to a group that opposes Japan’s claims to sovereignty over a pair of South Korea-controlled islets, threw a piece of concrete at then Japanese Ambassador Toshinori Shigeie as the latter was giving a speech on bilateral relations at a forum in downtown Seoul.
A court later that same year sentenced him to a two-year prison term, suspended for three years.
Relations between Japan and South Korea have plunged to their lowest level in years due to the territorial dispute and issues over wartime history.
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