Court gives S. Korean who tried to set fire to Yasukuni suspended term

A Tokyo court gave a suspended sentence Thursday to a 23-year-old South Korean man who intruded into the premises of the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine and tried to start a fire.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Kang Yong Min to a three-year prison term, suspended for four years, for intruding into the premises around 5 p.m. on Sept. 22, hurling a plastic bottle of toluene and hiding there for about four hours.

"Although the act was a simplistic one by the defendant, who ignored its dangers and possible damage, he has apologized and shown an attitude of repentance," Presiding Judge Akira Ando said in explaining the ruling.

Kan's defense counsel had argued that although he tried to set fire to the shrine in protest at some nationalistic Japanese politicians, he "had no intention of inflicting injuries on people in trying to commit arson."

The shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals along with the country's war dead, is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism by many countries, including South Korea and China.