Shrine protester escapes jail over Japanese hate mail

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2007, 12:00am

A man who sent threatening letters containing cutter blades to three Japanese politicians because he felt they did not respect Chinese war victims has been ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

The District Court also ordered Lau Yiu-tak, 25, who previously pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal intimidation, to undergo psychological counselling.

Passing sentence, District Judge Mary Yuen Lai-wai said Lau's act was immature rather than posing a threat to society, and it was a 'naive rather than a malicious act'.

Psychological and psychiatric reports submitted to the court yesterday showed Lau had 'no deviant behaviour', and he made a frank admission under police investigation.

Taking these factors into account, Judge Yuen believed a rehabilitation sentence would be appropriate.

The court was told that between May 26 and July 10, 2006, Lau had written 10 letters, each containing a 10cm cutter blade. Eight of them were sent to Shinzo Abe when he was cabinet secretary, before becoming Japan's prime minister.

The other two letters were sent to foreign minister Taro Aso and Japans' former consul in Hong Kong, Takanori Kitamura.

Earlier Lau told the court that sending the letters was a way for him to express his dissatisfaction at the officials, and he hoped they would not visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

Judge Yuen advised Lau that looking at the past would not 'help our country to become stronger and move forward'. Instead, he should look ahead.

She also told Lau to pay more attention to his elderly parents. The court had heard that his sick mother was receiving treatment on the mainland, while his 60-year-old father was still working to support the family.

She hoped Lau had learned from this trial and would contribute more to society in future.

The court had heard that a letter addressed to Mr Aso was received by the parliamentary office in Tokyo in May last year.

The letter stated: 'If Mr Abe continues uttering words that damage the Sino-Japanese relationship, he will fail in the prime minister's campaign and God will kill him.'

Letters were also sent to police stations and news agencies, reading: 'If Mr Abe continues to pay visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, he will be punished and killed by God.'

Lau had written his Hong Kong address on the back of the note.

Outside court, Lau said: 'I am surprised and happy as I don't have to go to jail. Having been remanded in custody for two weeks, it made me realise the importance of freedom.

'Now what I want to do most is to go to the public library and update my blog to let everyone know that I'm free.'