A 58-year-old Buddhist monk has been sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for one year, for making a death threat to a Japanese ambassador earlier this year in anger at Tokyo's claims over South Korea's eastern islets, a Seoul court said Sunday.
The monk, only identified by his surname Hong, called the Japanese embassy in Seoul in March and threatened to stab then Ambassador Toshinori Shigeie, the Seoul Central District Court said in a filing.
"No settlement was reached with Ambassador Shigeie, but it has been taken into account that the defendant has no criminal record of similar offenses and is repentant of his wrongdoing," Judge Gong Do-il said in the ruling.
Hong made the death threat after being angered by news reports that Japan was approving primary school textbooks that describe South Korea's Dokdo islets as its territory, the court said.
The monk also sent a fax to the embassy saying that Shigeie will face death if he does not immediately return home and urge his government to stop claiming Dokdo.
Dokdo, on which South Korea has stationed its Coast Guard since 1954, lies 90 kilometers east of South Korea's Ulleung Island in the East Sea.
Japan's claims over the rocky outcroppings in the East Sea have long been a hindrance to moving Seoul-Tokyo relations forward. South Koreans view such claims as a sign that Japan is not remorseful about its 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.