March 27, 2015 12:10
An arsonist attempted to set fire to the Korea Cultural Center in Shinjuku, Tokyo around midnight Wednesday.
The unidentified person ran away after setting fire to two portable Zippo lighter fuel canisters outside the center's side gate at 11:50 p.m., the Korean Embassy in Tokyo said Thursday.
The flames raged for about three minutes but died down.
A staffer with the Korea Tourism Organization, whose Tokyo branch office is in the center, was surprised to find the flames guttering at his feet while leaving the compound and called emergency services.
The embassy retrieved video footage of the attack showing a masked man in his 30s or 40s for about 10 seconds taking out the fuel canisters and setting fire to them.
The embassy handed the clip over to the Japanese police and asked them to step up security around the embassy and the center.
About 50 police officers are stationed around the embassy around the clock, but a civilian security firm watches the center because the embassy decided that police protection could alienate ordinary Japanese citizens.
An embassy spokesman said, "It seems that it wasn't an accidental arson but the arsonist had prepared the attack carefully in advance."
Japanese right-wingers have repeatedly staged demonstrations near or sent threats to Korean missions in Tokyo, but this was the first arson attack in 19 years.
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