Seoul assemblyman held in Shimane, after trying to cut finger

LEAD: Seoul assemblyman held in Shimane, after trying to cut finger

MATSUE, Japan, March 16 Kyodo

(EDS: EXPANDING WITH DETAILS)

A Seoul city assemblyman visiting the Shimane prefectural assembly hall on Wednesday was seized by police as he appeared to make preparations to cut his finger with a knife in order to write a statement in blood.

The incident took place just before the assembly passed a bill to insist on Japan’s sovereignty over disputed Takeshima Island, which is controlled by South Korea.

Choi Jae Ik, who leads a South Korean group asserting South Korea’s territorial rights over the island in the Sea of Japan, took out a paper knife and a sheet of white paper just before 9 a.m. near the entrance of the assembly hall.

He later told police he was going to write a statement in blood after cutting his finger. He was not hurt.

South Korea has protested the prefectural assembly’s move by shelving a visit to Japan by Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon, while South Koreans have laid siege to the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to protest the measure, with two activists cutting off parts of their fingers during a rally on Monday.

After the incident, the Shimane assembly decided to deny entry by Choi and another member of the group he leads to the assembly building for hearing the proceedings.

About half an hour before the incident, Choi, holding a banner reading in Korean, ”Tokto is our territory,” was responding to questions to reporters in front of the assembly building.

Choi said he requested a meeting with the chair of the prefectural assembly, Hajime Miyazumi, but the request was denied. In an apparent reference to the assembly’s move, Choi said, ”An act of aggression is being decided in a closed chamber.”

The prefectural assembly passed the bill in a session later on Wednesday to designate Feb. 22 as ”Takeshima Day” to underline Japan’s sovereignty over the island.

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