Two Chinese nationals are wanted by Japan for allegedly vandalising the sacred Meiji Shrine last week, one of five historic sites recently found to have been defaced with an oil-like liquid.
The two suspects are Pu Jinyu and Pu Shanai, both 49. They allegedly defaced the shrine in 15 places including the torii gate that marks its entrance. It is unclear if the duo, who are said to have committed the crime between 9.30am and 11am on April 3, are related.
Immigration records show that they were born in Jilin, China. On March 27, they flew from Shanghai to Naha in Okinawa, and then to Osaka on March 30. They arrived in Tokyo by the Shinkansen bullet train on April 1, then returned to Shanghai three days later. There is no extradition treaty between Japan and China.
Tokyo police are working with their counterparts across the country to establish a link between the two suspects and the other cases.
The two women's route through Japan coincides with the other locations where historic sites were found to have been vandalised. In Tokyo, at least a dozen similar stains were found at the Zojoji Buddhist temple near Tokyo Tower last Tuesday.
Stains were also found on the gates of Shurijo Castle in Okinawa, as well as Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto and Kinpusenji, a temple in Nara. Both Kyoto and Nara border Osaka. No new cases have been discovered since the women's departure from Japan.
Two years ago, a spate of vandalism hit 48 temples and shrines across 16 prefectures. A warrant was issued against a New York- based Japanese man for defacing Katori Shrine in Chiba, but he could not be arrested as he had left Japan by then.