The flag-snatching incident involving the Japanese ambassador's car was a spontaneous act triggered by the mere sight of a symbol of Japan, Chinese authorities said.
According to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, the man suspected of ripping the Japanese flag from the hood of the limo on Aug. 27 explained he got angry when he spotted the Hinomaru while traveling on a Beijing road, Chinese officials said.
The suspect was one of two men in a white BMW with an Anhui province license plate. Chinese officials said both men told the bureau that they decided to do something about the Japanese flag immediately after they saw it.
However, suspicions persist that the incident could be premeditated because a second vehicle, a silver Audi with a Beijing license plate, helped to force the limo to stop, allowing the passenger in the BMW to grab the flag.
The bureau is expected to penalize the four with either detentions, fines or admonitions under the public security administrative punishment law.
The man who grabbed the flag is expected to receive the harshest punishment, the officials said.