2012/01/09

Chinese faces arrest for Japan embassy attack in Seoul

SEOUL, January  9, 2012 (AFP) - South Korean police said Monday they were seeking a formal arrest warrant for a Chinese accused of hurling petrol bombs at the Japanese embassy because his grandmother was forced into wartime sex slavery.

The 38-year-old surnamed Liu was detained on Sunday morning after throwing four molotov cocktails at the Japanese mission in the South Korean capital, leaving burn marks on part of the outer wall.

"We have applied for an arrest warrant against him for illegally using petrol bombs," a Seoul police officer told AFP without elaborating.

The man also claimed responsibility for an arson attack on Japan's controversial Yasukuni shrine last month, saying his late maternal grandmother -- a Korean -- was forced to work in Japanese army brothels in China.

Liu is from China's southern city of Guangzhou and entered South Korea last month via Japan on a tourist visa.

Known as "comfort women", about 200,000 females from Korea, China, the Philippines and other countries were drafted to work in Japanese army brothels, according to historians.

Japan insists the issue was legally settled almost four decades ago but is coming under new pressure from South Korea to compensate elderly victims before the last of them die.

The Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo is dedicated to 2.5 million Japanese killed in wars -- including top World War II criminals -- and is often seen as a symbol of the country's wartime aggression.

Its main wooden gate was set on fire and suffered minor damage on December 26.

Liu told Seoul police he attacked the embassy because he was angry at the Japanese government's refusal to deal with the issue of comfort women.

He also claimed his maternal great-grandfather had been tortured to death by Japanese police after campaigning against Tokyo's 1910-45 occupation of the Korean peninsula, Yonhap news agency said.