Man arrested after injuring 10 with knife on Tokyo train

Published August 8, 2021
Rescuers carry an injured passenger on stretcher at Soshigaya Okura Station after a stabbing on a commuter train, in Tokyo on Friday. — AP
Rescuers carry an injured passenger on stretcher at Soshigaya Okura Station after a stabbing on a commuter train, in Tokyo on Friday. — AP

TOKYO: Japanese police said on Saturday they arrested a man who stabbed 10 passengers on a commuter train in Tokyo hours earlier, in what Japanese media reported to be a random burst of violence unrelated to the ongoing Olympic Games.

The 36-year-old man told police he wanted to kill women who appeared happy, and chose his targets at random, public broadcaster NHK said. The initial victim, a woman in her 20s, was in serious condition, according to NHK and other Japanese media. Police identified the attacker as Yusuke Tsushima.

The Tokyo Fire Department said nine of the 10 injured passengers were taken to nearby hospitals, while the 10th was able to walk away. All of the injured were conscious, fire department officials said.

The Japanese capital is currently hosting the Olympics, which end on Sunday. The site of the stabbing spree was about 15 kilometers (9 miles) away from the main National Stadium.

The man dropped his knife after the handle broke and fled, and later walked into a convenience store and identified himself as the suspect on the news, and said he was tired of running away, according to Japanese media. The store manager called police after seeing bloodstains on the man's shirt.

TBS television said Tsushima told police he developed the intent to kill women who looked happy, and stabbed a woman who happened to be seated near him in the carriage. He also told police that he chose to stage the attack inside a train because it offered the chance to kill a large number of people.

The suspect, who boarded the train with the knife, scissors, cooking oil and a lighter, moved to other carriages after stabbing the first woman. In one car, he poured cooking oil on the floor and tried to set it on fire, Kyodo News agency reported, quoting police. He intentionally chose an express train that makes fewer stops, having passengers stay on board longer, the report said.

The man also told police he initially planned to attack a female shop employee who reported him shoplifting to police earlier in the day, but realising it was past closing time, he decided to carry out attacks on the train, TBS reported.

A witness at a nearby station where the train stopped said passengers were rushing out of the carriages, shouting that there was a stabbing and asking for first aid. Another witness told NHK that he saw passengers smeared with blood come out of the train, as an announcer asked for doctors and for passengers carrying towels.

The stabbing occurred near Seijogakuen station, according to railway operator Odakyu Electric Railway Co. While shooting deaths are rare in Japan, the country has had a series of high-profile killings with knives in recent years.

In 2019, a man carrying two knives attacked a group of schoolgirls waiting at a bus stop just outside Tokyo, killing two people and injuring 17 before killing himself. In 2018, a man killed a passenger and injuring two others in a knife attack on a bullet train. In 2016, a former employee at a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 people and injured more than 20.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2021

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