The photo shows the blaze engulfing Shuri Castle around 2.34 a.m local time. (Image via Evening Standard)

Shuri Castle's fire was not unlikely by Arson: Police

After a series of investigations, the Japanese police determined on Friday that the arson had nothing to do with Shuri Castle’s blaze. The police had checked all the evidence, including the camera footage from seven surveillance cameras. The findings showed that no intrusion detected before the fire, showing an impossibility of any criminal motive.

Okinawa Churashima Foundation, the agency that manages the Shuri Castle, also stated that nothing peculiar happened ahead of the blaze. The security guards had double patrolled the Seiden main building, before it was consumed by the flame, and found nothing at that time.

Since 27 November, Shuri Castle is holding an ancient festival. Around 70 workers, responsible for installing lights and other miscellaneous, were nowhere in the castle after 1.00 a.m.

The foundation also stated that other than heat detectors, there is no other electrical equipment. The main props for the event were left in the main hall.

The local fire department detected the fire alarm at 2.34 a.m, Thursday last week. Unfortunately, although Shuri Castle is equipped with fire extinguishers and alarms, it does not have sprinklers to extinguish the fire immediately.

The blaze devastated Seiden main hall, Hokuden north hall, and Nanden south hall. More than 400 artifacts of 1,500 kept in the castle were lost in the blaze. At 1.30 p.m, the fire was completely extinguished. When about 100 officials came to monitor the devastated castle, smoke was still rising from the Seiden. Fortunately, no casualties were reported.

Governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, visited Tokyo to call for help from the Japanese government to restore the symbol of Okinawa, known as Japan’s 11th UNESCO’s World Heritage site. The restoration plan will be finished in 2022, in the 50th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan after the postwar occupation by the United States (U.S).

The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, both promised that the Japanese government will do its best to help Okinawa restore Shuri Castle.

Reflecting from Notre-Dame fire in April, the Japanese government allocated ¥8 billion in the 2020 fiscal budget for fire prevention to protect national treasures. The amount was four times more than the 2019 fiscal budget.

However, for any restored buildings not being national treasures, the owners of the place must take up the initiatives by themselves, excluded from the Japanese government’s subsidies.