Man arrested in Tokyo after ramming car into barricade near Israeli embassy

World News

(JR) — A man was arrested in Tokyo on Thursday after ramming his car into a barricade near the Israeli embassy, leaving one police officer with non-life-threatening injuries.

Shinobu Sekiguchi, the 53-year-old suspect, was a member of a right-wing group, the police said, according to local reports. The group has joined protests against left-wing pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have taken place outside the embassy.

Gilad Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Japan, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he was “shocked” by the incident, which is under investigation by police.

“I would like to express gratitude to the Japanese government and Tokyo Police for their commitment to ensuring our security. Wishing a speedy recovery to the injured police officer,” Cohen wrote.

The circumstances of the incident were unclear. One local news report said Sekiguchi said he had driven into the barricade by accident, while another said he had posted anti-Israel sentiment on social media prior to the incident, according to tweets from an American professor at a Tokyo university.

People shout a slogan and calling for a solidarity with Palestinians during the demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Tokyo, Nov. 17, 2023. (Yusuke Harada/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The incident occurred in an area near the embassy where demonstrations protesting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza have taken place in recent weeks, and where police had set up additional barricades and security in response, according to reports.

Several large pro-Israel actions in Japan have also gone viral on social media, including an event hosted by the Israeli embassy in October in which a large crowd sang “Oseh Shalom” outside Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya Station.

Japan, as chair of the G7, has stood out from other major world powers in pushing a more neutral approach to the conflict. It has called on all parties to follow international law and was the only G7 member that stopped short of acknowledging Israel’s “right to defend itself” and labeling Hamas a terrorist organization. Some humanitarian organizations have called on Japan to play a greater role in ensuring accountability for war crimes by all parties.

In Beijing last month — where a marked increase in online antisemitism has been documented — a family member of an Israeli diplomat was stabbed by a foreigner. Authorities there have not offered further details on the incident but have said it is under investigation by police.