An explosion Monday damaged a public restroom at a controversial shrine in Tokyo that honors Japanese war dead, with police suspecting foul play. No one was injured.
The Yasukuni shrine, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including executed war criminals, has been the target of criticism from China and South Korea, which suffered from Japan’s World War II atrocities and aggression.
Tokyo police said in a statement that they received a call about an explosion and smoke at Yasukuni. Firefighters were also called to the scene and found the ceiling and walls of the restroom had been damaged, said an official at the Tokyo Fire Department, who spoke on condition of anonymity. But the fire was out by the time they arrived.
It was unclear what caused the explosion. Police and fire department officials declined to elaborate.
TBS TV news said batteries and wirings that may be part of an explosive device were found. Police will be reviewing footage on security cameras for clues on who might be behind the explosion, TBS said.
The person in charge of media at Yasukuni was not immediately available for comment.
The shrine is a focal point for lingering tensions with Japan’s neighbors over the country’s aggression before and during World War II. Some Japanese lawmakers have insisted on making official visits in the name of patriotism, while other lawmakers say such visits glorify Japan’s historical mistakes.
Emperor Akihito has not visited Yasukuni. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also avoided making official visits over the last two years.
While views on the shrine have also divided the Japanese public, it holds emotional significance for many because during the war soldiers promised each other they would reunite at Yasukuni if they died. Survivors and families say another monument elsewhere won’t do because the soldiers’ spirits go to Yasukuni.
Many families and tourists visit Yasukuni, and Monday was a national holiday.
The shrine has a grandiose gate, giant cherry trees, flocks of pigeons and a museum that pays homage to those who died in Japan’s wars, including kamikaze pilots.