National / Crime & Legal

Man on video likely visited Yasukuni Shrine before suspected bombing

Kyodo

A South Korean man caught on surveillance camera footage around the time of a suspected bombing at a public restroom at war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Nov. 23 is likely to have gone to the Tokyo shrine on the preceding day, investigative sources said Friday.

The Metropolitan Police Department suspects the man checked the site before placing on the following day what is believed to be an explosive device. An explosion was heard there on the morning of Nov. 23, but no one was injured.

The man in question was a 27-year-old South Korean national who flew to Japan for a short-term stay on Nov. 21 and returned home on the afternoon of Nov. 23, the sources said.

Security cameras around the restroom captured a man in dark clothes wearing eyeglasses and carrying a backpack and a bag approximately 30 minutes before the sound of the blast at the shrine, which is seen as a symbol of Japan’s militarist past by neighboring South Korea and China.

Subsequent footage showed the man without the bag exiting the compound. The police have said the man walked to a hotel where he stayed.

Also on Friday, the South Korean Foreign Ministry, on the travel warnings section of its website, called on South Koreans to refrain from approaching the shrine.

The Shinto shrine has long been at the center of diplomatic friction with China and South Korea whenever high-ranking Japanese politicians pay homage there. The shrine honors convicted war criminals along with about 2.5 million war dead.