Nov. 14 (UPI) -- A Japanese man who threatened organizers of the Aichi Triennale 2019 art festival was found guilty of a "malicious act" on Thursday.
A court in Nagoya, Japan, found 59-year-old Shuji Hotta guilty of faxing violent threats to organizers of the Japanese art festival, NHK reported Thursday.
Hotta, a former truck driver from Aichi Prefecture, had said in his messages he would bring harm to festival planners for agreeing to display a "comfort woman" statue.
The statue depicts a young Korean girl, an emblem of the victims of Japanese wartime slavery who were raped and assaulted in military brothels during World War II.
Hotta had warned he would bring an end to the exhibit of the statue with a container of gasoline if the organizers did not cancel the installation.
The Aichi Triennale did eventually remove the statue in August, when the festival opened. The festival returned the statue to the site in October.
On Thursday, the Nagoya court said the defendant had engaged in a malicious act that triggered "strong fear" for the recipients of the fax.
Hotta was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, with three years of probation, because of the defendant's "acknowledgement of his crimes and apologies," according to NHK.
The verdict comes a day after a South Korean court held its first hearing regarding a lawsuit filed by former comfort women, Kyodo News reported.
Tokyo has rejected the legitimacy of the suit, according to Japanese paper Sankei Shimbun.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday the "principle of sovereign state immunity" applies to Japan, and any court verdicts from South Korea do not apply to Japan, according to the report.
Suga also said the comfort women issue was resolved when the two countries signed a treaty in 1965.