Hong Kong man has been arrested in Japan after starting a small fire at the country’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine on Wednesday morning.
The shrine honors some 2.4 million Japanese war dead including senior military and political figures who were convicted of Class-A war crimes. In the past, visits to the shrine by both Japanese politicians and international celebrities have drawn harsh anger and criticism from China’s government and citizens.
Video from the scene shows a 55-year-old man named Guo Shaojie setting fire to a paper tablet with the words “Class-A war criminal Hideki Tojo” in front of a gate that leads to the main shrine before holding up a banner reminding people not to forget the Nanjing Massacre while chanting “Down with Japanese militarism!”
Thursday marks the 81st anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, an episode of mass rape and murder where China claims that the Japanese army slaughtered more than 300,000 people. Hideki Tojo was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army who served as Japan’s prime minister from 1941 to 1944. He was executed by hanging for war crimes in 1948.
At the end of the video, a security officer is seen telling off Guo who was arrested along with a female companion who filmed the protest.
According to Hong Kong media, Guo is a member of the nationalist group Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands. As the name suggests, the group calls for China to take over ownership of the disputed Japan-controlled Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Back in 2015, a 28-year-old South Korean man set off a small explosive inside one of the Yasukuni Shrine’s bathrooms. Afterward, Chinese netizens took to Weibo to express their gratitude towards the bomber, as well as their bitter disappointment at the size of the blast.
You’ll find many similar sentiments on Weibo this time around with Guo being hailed as a “national hero” by some net users.