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Japan police hunt man who spray painted ‘toilet’ on Yasukuni Shrine

Japan police hunt man who spray painted ‘toilet’ on Yasukuni Shrine
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Japan hunts man who spray-painted ‘toilet’ on Yasukuni Shrine in Chinese social media video

Police in Japan are searching for suspects in the spray-painting of the word “toilet” on a Tokyo shrine that commemorates the country’s war dead, in an apparent protest against the ongoing release of treated radioactive waste water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The red graffiti on a stone pillar at the entrance of Yasukuni Shrine was discovered early on Saturday. In a video posted on Chinese social media, a man who identified himself as Iron Head criticised the discharge of waste water from the damaged nuclear power plant into the ocean.

A still from a video that circulated on Chinese social media shows an unidentified man next to the word “toilet” in red graffiti on a pillar at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine. Photo: X/Ek_aike

“Faced with the Japanese government’s permission to discharge nuclear waste water, can we do anything?” the man asks. “No, I will give them some colour to see.”

In another part of the video taken at night, he is seen apparently urinating on the pillar and using spray paint to write “toilet” in English.

Tokyo police are investigating at least two suspects, the person who appeared in the video and another who shot it, according to Japanese media including NHK public television and Kyodo News agency. Police believe the incident occurred late on Friday after the shrine closed and that the perpetrator is believed to have already left Japan, they said.

Police declined to confirm the reports.

The discharge of waste water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant has been opposed by fishing groups and neighbouring countries, especially China, which imposed a ban on all imports of Japanese seafood immediately after the release began in August. The ban has particularly affected Japanese scallop growers and exporters to China.

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Place of controversy: Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine

Place of controversy: Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine honours about 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including convicted war criminals.

Victims of Japanese aggression during the first half of the 20th century, especially China and the Koreas, see the shrine as a symbol of Japanese militarism. The countries criticise visits by Japanese lawmakers and offerings to the shrine as signs of their lack of remorse over Japan’s wartime actions.

The graffiti appeared to have been cleaned by Monday.

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