Court Backs South Korean Temple's Claim on Statue Stolen from Japan (News)
Daejeon, South Korea, Jan. 26 (Jiji Press)—A South Korean court on Thursday upheld a local temple's claim on an ancient statue of a seated Buddhist saint stolen from Japan in 2012 and currently kept at a South Korean national institute.
Daejeon District Court ordered the South Korean government to hand over the statue to Buseoksa Temple, which insists that it is highly likely the statue was looted from the temple by pirates in the 14th century and taken to the islands of Tsushima, currently in Nagasaki Prefecture.
In 2012, a group of South Korean thieves stole the Buddhist saint statue and a standing Buddha statue from a temple and a shrine, respectively, on Tsushima.
The Buddha statue, a state-designated important cultural property in Japan, was returned to the country in 2015. The Japanese government is demanding the return of the other statue, which is a prefecture-designated cultural asset.
In the ruling, the court said it is reasonable to believe that the Buddhist saint statue was transported to the Japanese temple, Kannonji, as a result of theft, looting or other illicit acts.[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]