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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Japan activist posts finger to PM
Yasukuni shrine (archive picture)
Neighbours say the shrine glorifies Japan's military past
A Japanese political activist has been arrested after he cut off his little finger and posted it to PM Shinzo Abe's ruling party, according to police.

Yoshihiro Tanjo said he was protesting against Mr Abe's refusal to visit a war shrine, on the 62nd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

He said he thought his message would be ignored if he just sent a letter.

The Yasukuni shrine honours Japan's war dead but is controversial because it also honours convicted war criminals.

Mr Tanjo, 54, was charged with intimidation tactics after severing a finger and sending it to the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters, police said.

Built in 1869 to honour victims of the Boshin Civil War
Now venerates the souls of 2.5m of Japan's war dead
Those enshrined include 14 Class A war criminals

The package also contained a letter of protest and a DVD with "very graphic images" of the man cutting off his finger.

Japanese TV aired some of the footage, which showed Mr Tanjo reading from a scroll with a Japanese flag hung behind him.

Strained relations

Mr Abe visited the shrine before he took office in September last year, but since then he has stayed away in an effort to heal ties with regional neighbours.

He did not visit the shrine for last week's anniversary, attending a commemoration ceremony in the capital, Tokyo, instead.

The shrine is dedicated to the souls of 2.5 million Japanese who died in past wars, including some who were convicted as World War II criminals.

Official trips to the shrine are seen by Japan's critics as a sign that Tokyo does not sufficiently regret its brutal conquest of the region in the 1930s and 40s.

Relations with China and South Korea were harmed under Mr Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, mainly because of his repeated Yasukuni visits.

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