Four S. Koreans arrested for stealing Buddha statue in Japan

November 25, 2014


TOKYO/SEOUL (Yonhap) — Four South Korean men have been arrested in Japan’s southern region on charges of stealing a historic Buddha statue, police said Tuesday, an incident that could further stoke anti-South Korean sentiment in Japan.

The four Koreans, including a 70-year-old man identified only by his surname Kim, were arrested Monday on suspicion of stealing a copper Buddha statue in a temple in Japan’s Tsushima city in Nagasaki prefecture.

They were also found possessing a number of Buddhist scriptures, along with the statue, one of the tangible cultural properties designated by the city, according to police.

Kim said that he is the head monk of an unspecified temple in South Korea. Two of the suspects denied their charges, police added.

A similar case occurred in October 2012 when two Buddha statues were smuggled into South Korea after being stolen from a temple in Tsushima.

Seoul’s foreign ministry said that the government has been informed of the incident by Japan, saying that it is in the process of determining the facts by sending consular officials stationed in Fukuoka to Tsushima.

“Currently, the Korean government is determining the facts. Necessary consular support will be provided to ensure the case is handled in a swift and fair manner,” Noh Kwang-il, a spokesman at the foreign ministry, told a press briefing.

The case is feared to further strain bilateral relations that are at their lowest ebb in recent years due to Japan’s attempts to gloss over its wartime atrocities such as sex slavery and its territorial claims to South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo.

One Comment

  1. Christine Mendoza

    November 27, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    Why not trade Tatsuya Kato for the 4 Koreans? This is another consequence of the Japan-S. Korea feud over a sea and comfort women. And stop pressuring US politicians to alter textbooks to favor one country over another.