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Shuri Castle fire probe ends without answers

By WANG XU in Tokyo | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-04 11:03 菲律宾申博太阳城官网
The World Heritage-listed Shuri Castle, in Naha on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, suffered extensive damage in the fire on Oct 31. [KYODO/REUTERS]

Police in Okinawa have ended their investigation into last year's fire that devastated Shuri Castle in Naha, with no conclusive results on the cause.

"The fire was not caused by arson, negligence or other reasons for which a criminal liability can be established," said a recent report released by the Okinawa Prefectural Police.

According to the report, the police "closely investigated" the northeastern section of the Seiden main hall, which burned furiously, and "scrutinized metal fragments that are believed to be burned electric wiring", but "no evidence could be found in regard to the cause of the fire that devastated Shuri Castle and its vicinity" after three months of rigorous investigation.

A thorough examination of footage acquired from 68 nearby security cameras suggested that there were no possible perpetrators, the report said, adding that the police could not conclude that the fire occurred due to an electric system problem because no signs of a short circuit were found.

Before that, local firefighters who responded to the scene of the castle fire had doubted that a short-circuited wire near the main hall's northeastern side may have been the cause.

The investigation's closure and its result had provoked reactions ranging from distrust to outrage across Japan with one person named "Born in Japan" tweeting: "There got to be a reason for the fire. … Incompetent people are incompetent no matter where they go".

"I think it is risky to rebuild Shuri Castle if we do not know what caused the fire because an accident may happen again due to the same reason," said a high school student in Tokyo surnamed Aomi.

"The people investigating this should be more responsible and the public deserve a more persuasive explanation," Aomi added.

After Shuri Castle burned down, the Okinawa government made ambitious plans to rebuild it, its fifth rebuilding, by 2022 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Okinawa's transfer from the United States to Japan.

In October, a catastrophic blaze caused extensive damage and left at least one-third of Shuri Castle's artifacts completely destroyed.

Shuri Castle, which served as the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom in the 1300s, is a symbol of Okinawa's complex history and culture and was designated as a UNESCO heritage site in 2000.

The castle was last rebuilt between late 1980s and 1992 after it was destroyed in 1945 during World War II.

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