Tokyo and Beijing have been locked in a diplomatic fight over a Chinese man who hurled Molotov cocktails at the Japanese embassy in Seoul, officials said on Friday.
The 38-year-old surnamed Liu was charged with attempted arson in January after he threw four gasoline bombs at the mission, leaving burn marks on its outer wall.
“Japan has asked South Korea through formal diplomatic channels to hand him over” for trial, a foreign ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
South Korea has also received an informal request from China to deport him, she said.
At talks on Friday with South Korean Justice Minister Kwon Jae-jin, Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱) showed his “interest” in the case, Kwon’s office said.
Kwon vowed to handle the case under South Korea’s law and legal procedures, it said, declining to give details.
Liu has told investigators that he attacked the embassy because he was angry at Tokyo’s refusal to deal with the issue of “comfort women” forced to work in Japanese military brothels in World War II. He said his late maternal grandmother — a Korean — was forced into wartime sex slavery in China.
Liu also claimed responsibility for an arson attack that caused minor damage at Japan’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine in December last year.
The shrine in Tokyo is dedicated to 2.5 million Japanese killed in wars — including top war criminals — and is often seen as a symbol of the country’s wartime aggression.
At separate talks on Friday with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Meng said Beijing was “seriously” considering Seoul’s request to release four South Korean activists, the foreign ministry said.
The four were arrested on March 29 after helping North Korean refugees and accused of endangering China’s national security, a charge that can carry severe punishment.