updated 8/23/2007 8:32:33 PM ET 2007-08-24T00:32:33

Police arrested an extremist Thursday for sending his severed finger to the ruling party to protest the prime minister’s absence from a shrine on the anniversary of the end of World War II, officials and news reports said.

Yoshihiro Tanjo, a 54-year-old member of an ultra-right-wing group in Okayama, western Japan, was arrested on charges of threatening Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party, a prefectural police spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. He said no other details could be immediately released.

Kyodo News agency said Tanjo mailed his severed left pinky finger, a DVD showing the finger being chopped, and a protest statement to the LDP headquarters on Aug. 16, the day after the anniversary of the war’s end.

A party official opened the package Monday and immediately filed a criminal compliant, Kyodo said.

Yasukuni Shrine honors Japan’s 2.5 million war dead, including executed wartime leaders convicted as war criminals, and is vilified by critics at home and abroad as a symbol of the country’s militaristic past.

Abe, an ardent nationalist, regularly prayed at Yasukuni in the past — but apparently has not done so since taking office last September, reflecting concern for Japan’s fragile ties with its Asian neighbors.

Dozens of right-wing extremists staged a noisy rally outside Abe’s office on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, criticizing him for not praying at Yasukuni and calling him a “traitor.”

Tanjo turned himself in at a local police station on Saturday, saying he sent the finger so that his action would be taken seriously, Kyodo said.

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