Today a court in South Korea turned down a request from Japan to extradite a Chinese national who admitted to committing an arson attack at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine in December 2011. 38 year old Liu Qiang has just completed a 10 month jail term in South Korea for committing a similar arson attack on the Japanese embassy in Seoul, but the court now feels he should be deported back to China.
Liu was arrested last January for throwing gasoline bombs at the Japanese embassy, leaving burn marks on the facility’s outer wall. Japan has been seeking his extradition after he was found to have caused similar damage at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial to the country’s soldiers who died in war. As the shrine also holds several convicted war criminals, it is seen by many in Asia, including South Korea and China, as a monument to Japan’s wartime aggression.
Investigators say Liu admitted that he carried out the attacks because he was angry with the Japanese government’s refusal to deal with the historical issue of the Imperial Army’s use of sexual slaves, dubbed “comfort women,” prior to and during World War II. Liu claimed his maternal grandmother was one of the many Koreans forced into slavery during Japan’s occupation of China. While Tokyo has called for his extradition in order to be punished for the Yakusuni Shrine attack, China has fought back, arguing that Liu is a political prisoner whose actions were prompted by past crimes committed in China, and that he should be repatriated.[via My Sinchew]