A view of the scene after a car crashed into a barricade near the Israeli embassy in Tokyo, Japan, November 16, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

TOKYO: A Japanese man was arrested on Thursday after crashing a car through a barrier near the Israeli embassy in Tokyo, police said.

Mor Eliyahu, a spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy, told AFP that the incident “is suspected to be a targeted vehicle ramming attack, and it is currently under investigation by local police”.

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But police made no comment on the possible motives of the local unemployed man who drove his small car through the barrier into a fence at an intersection around 100 metres (yards) from the embassy.

One police officer was slightly injured in the incident late Thursday morning.

“At around 10:55 am, the suspect, driving a minicar, suddenly turned to the left and rammed into a male police officer in his 20s who was patrolling for the Israeli embassy,” a police spokesperson told AFP.

He gave no further comment other than to confirm the suspect’s name as Shinobu Sekiguchi, 53, an unemployed man from western Tokyo.

Media also reported that the man is a member of a local right-wing group. Such groups in Japan are generally not known for being critical of Israel or anti-Semitic.

A fire department spokesperson said only that they received an emergency call and gave no further details.

“Around 11am, I heard a huge bang, so I went outside to check out. Then I saw a policeman injured and in pain near the traffic barrier and it looked like he was bleeding. There was also a black car parked nearby,” a restaurant employee working nearby told public broadcaster NHK.

Countries around the world have stepped up security around Israeli diplomatic missions since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas last month.

On October 21, four people were arrested after a pipe bomb exploded near the Israeli embassy in Cyprus, causing little damage and no injuries, police said.

On October 14, an employee of the Israeli embassy in China was attacked in Beijing. A foreign suspect was arrested and authorities have not said anything about the case since.

There has also been a sharp rise in anti-Semitic as well as Islamophobic incidents around the world.

Israel launched an offensive in Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’s brutal October 7 attacks, which killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

With the Hamas-run health ministry claiming the death toll from the Israeli offensive has now topped 11,500, including thousands of children, calls for a truce are mounting.