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Man breaks into Defense Ministry, may have tried to steal rifle

The Defense Ministry (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A man was arrested Thursday after breaking into the premises of the Defense Ministry in Tokyo and apparently trying to snatch a rifle from a guard on duty.

The man, who broke into the grounds via the front gate at around 9:40 a.m., scuffled with the Self-Defense Forces member and apparently tried to seize the guard's rifle, a ministry official said based on witnesses.

Rifles carried by SDF officers on guard at the front gate are unloaded, the official added.

"The SDF member was not injured," Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters. "I will receive further reports such as on his motives when they are known."

The man was arrested on the spot by the police unit of the Ground Self-Defense Force for alleged trespassing.

The Defense Ministry is located near JR Ichigaya Station in Tokyo and the front gate is guarded 24 hours by private security guards. Officers from the ground, maritime and air Self-Defense Forces also do guard duty.

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