Controversial Chinese Influencer Desecrates Controversial Japanese Shrine

Controversial Chinese Influencer Desecrates Controversial Japanese Shrine

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Iron Head Yasukuni Shrine Desecration
Picture: yu_photo / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
Japanese police are after a notorious Chinese social media influencer who defaced Yasukuni Shrine to boost his own reputation.

Saturday morning (JST), a man identifying as “Iron Head” protested against Japan’s release of water from damaged nuclear power plants in Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean by splashing his own urine and spraying “Toilet” onto the country’s monumental – and controversial – shrine, Yasukuni.

Man sprays urine and paint at controversial shrine

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police are on the search for the man who appears in a now-viral video, spray painting the word “Toilet” in red on a stone pillar at Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo early Saturday morning.

Yasukuni Shrine is shrouded in controversy as the memorial site for over 2.5 million people who died in war. That includes the 14 convicted Class-A war criminals of World War 2. Visits of Japanese Prime Ministers to the Shinto shrine ignite backlash as critics say it violates the separation of religion and state.

A passerby discovered the graffiti on June 1st around 6:20 AM and notified a nearby police officer. Police cordoned off the pillar with a blue tarp as cleaners removed the paint.  

Authorities are now reviewing security camera footage in the area while pursuing the man who calls himself “Iron Head.” The video shows him climbing onto the pillar’s base, urinating on its sides, and spray-painting the word “Toilet” in English onto it.

Japanese police are pursuing Iron Head on suspicion of property damage. The crime is punishable with a maximum of three years in prison, a fine of up to 300,000 yen (about 1,900 USD), or a petty fine.

A protest for Fukushima wastewater release?

Iron Head reportedly posted the original video on Xiaohongshu, or RED, a.k.a. the “Chinese Instagram.” The video there has since been deleted. However, people have reposted it on X, where it’s grabbed over 10 million views.

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Jeffrey J. Hall 🇯🇵🇺🇸 on X (formerly Twitter): “A Chinese nationalist has shared a video of himself vandalizing Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine.pic.twitter.com/HdPxBOPkZG https://t.co/GWrffFDwod / X”

A Chinese nationalist has shared a video of himself vandalizing Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine.pic.twitter.com/HdPxBOPkZG https://t.co/GWrffFDwod

A version of the video available on X.

Other videos of Iron Head appear on an account on Bilibili, a Chinese video-sharing website. Some reposts of the Yasukuni incident show the icon for Bilibili in the top left corner. Others bear the icon for RED.

Iron Head speaks directly to the camera in English. The video has Chinese and English subtitles (there are also versions with Japanese subtitles).

Standing before the stone pillar, he declares that he’s taking action against the release of Fukushima wastewater that began last August and will continue for at least 30 years.

“Faced with the Japanese government’s permission to discharge nuclear wastewater. Can’t we do anything? No! I will give them some color to see,” he says.

Japan’s decision to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that suffered major damage during a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 has triggered international criticism. As protests erupted in South Korea and Japan, China slapped a ban on Japanese seafood imports. Yet, a public demonstration as reckless and illegal as Iron Head’s had not occurred before.

His real motives?

Yasukuni Shrine
Yasukuni is a beautiful shrine marred by controversy. (Picture: aki / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

However, it’s unclear whether Iron Head is truly motivated by patriotism. Multiple users from China identified Iron Head as Dong Guangming (董光明), a notorious social media celebrity on the mainland.

Chinese authorities reportedly banned Dong from major Chinese social media platforms after a livestream in which he openly discussed patronizing prostitutes. His stunt at Yasukuni might be a way of winning favor with the public – and authorities – as a way to rehabilitate his reputation.

The attack may indeed stir up nationalist fervor in China. It’s already stoking it on Japan’s far right, which views China as a mortal enemy and baleful foreign influence.

Before mounting the pillar’s base, he says, “Today is International Children’s Day,” which is June 1st in China, before adding, “I am a big boy.”

The video ends with his back to the camera, walking away from the shrine, before the text  “to be continued” appears.

That assumes, of course, he’s managed to stay a step ahead of the Japanese police. Some social media reports are saying he has safely landed at Shanghai airport and is no longer in Japan. However, we were unable to confirm this.

Sources

靖国神社の石柱に落書き 英語で「トイレ」 器物損壊の疑いで捜査. 産経新聞

靖国神社の石柱に落書き、一連の様子を中国の動画投稿アプリに投稿 放尿のような仕草も. 産経新聞

靖国神社の石柱に放尿するような仕草し「Toilet」と落書き、SNSに動画、中国人か. Record China

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