TOKYO, June 14 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean man admitted Tuesday to his involvement in the suspected bombing last year of a public restroom at a Tokyo war shrine in his first court hearing at the Tokyo District Court, news reports said.
The 28-year-old suspect, identified only by his surname Chon, has been indicted on charges of breaking into the premises of Yasukuni Shrine on Nov. 23 and bombing the public restroom.
Chon was arrested in December shortly after voluntarily returning to Tokyo by plane.
In Tuesday's hearing, prosecutors said Chon attempted to install an explosive device with a digital timer at the main hall of the shrine out of his discontent over the war-linked shrine that honors Japanese wartime leaders who were convicted as war criminals.
But he put it in the restroom instead after failing to do so due to tight security, they said.
Chon's defense counsel reportedly asked the court to give him a reduced penalty as the incident is not a grave one as no one was injured and he has no chance of repeating the offense as he will find it difficult to enter Japan again down the road.
At the close of the hearing, a man and woman dressed in military attire were expelled out of the court after shouting to Chon, according to reports.
Makoto Sakurai, former leader of an anti-Korean activist group, Zaitokukai, and other Japanese right-wing activists held an apparent anti-Korean rally in front of the court.
The group said, "Whatever Koreans say is lies and we suspect this Korean and that Koreans are terrorists."
Police did not move to stop the group's action even though the rally came following the enactment of a law by Japan's parliament on May 24 designed to deter hate speech.
The law defines hate speech as any expression of intent to harm people who were born abroad and reside in Japan lawfully and their descendants, or to incite discrimination against them.
Sakurai went as far as to say that "Yasukuni enshrines 20,000 Koreans who had fought for Japan. From the bottom of our hearts, we pray their souls may rest in peace."
South Korea and China view the Yasukuni Shrine -- which honors over 2.4 million war dead, including 14 convicted Class-A war criminals -- as a symbol of Japan's past imperialism.
Many South Koreans still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.