Monday, July 5, 2010
OSAKA (Kyodo) A man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of damaging Christian churches dozens of times by throwing fire extinguishers or stones at doors, windows and entranceways.
Yasumasa Ikeda, 29, unemployed, is being held on an initial charge of destruction of property for breaking a church door in the city of Osaka on April 27 by throwing a fire extinguisher at it.
According to the police, Ikeda admitted to the charge, saying he "wanted the priest there to listen to his prayers."
They said he stole the extinguisher from a nearby housing complex.
A total of 72 cases of property damage at churches, most belonging to Protestant denominations, have been reported since September 2008 in four prefectures, including 44 in Osaka, 22 in Hyogo and three each in Kyoto and Shiga.
The Osaka police said Ikeda admitted he was involved in all 72 cases and confessed to sending threatening mail to about 60 churches in Osaka alone.
They said they were still trying to establish a motive and noted it was possible that Ikeda, who had attended a Protestant church for several years, may have had a grudge against Christian churches in general.
A surveillance camera showed a man approaching the Osaka church on a minibike in April and throwing what looked like a fire extinguisher, and the police said they were eventually able to match Ikeda with the security footage.