In Depth

Japan stabbing spree: who were the victims?

Man kills schoolgirl and adult in Tokyo suburb before committing suicide

Two people have died and more than a dozen others have been injured after a man armed with two knives went on a stabbing rampage in a suburb of Tokyo on Tuesday morning.

The man, reportedly in his 50s, was thought to be carrying a knife in each hand and was heard screaming “I will kill you!” before attacking a group of schoolgirls and adults waiting at a bus stop near Noborito Park in the city of Kawasaki.

Two of the 18 people stabbed, an 11-year-old girl and a 39-year-old man, were killed. Bloomberg reports that the suspect was captured but died from a self-inflicted cut to the neck shortly afterwards.

Kanagawa prefectural police confirmed that the 11-year-old was sixth-grade schoolgirl Hanako Kuribayashi from Tokyo, while the BBC quotes local media outlets that suggest the 39-year-old victim is believed to be the father of one of the children.

“Hospital officials at a televised news conference confirmed the 11-year-old’s death as well as that of a man in his 30s, saying both of them had been slashed in the head, chest and face,” says ABC News.

Three of the injured were said to be in a serious condition, while the injuries of the other 13 pupils were not thought to be life-threatening. 

The suspect’s identity and motive for the attack are currently unknown.

CNN reports that Japan is considered to be one of the world’s safest developed countries, boasting “one of the world’s lowest homicide rates” and making Tuesday’s attack all the more shocking.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the attack was “heartbreaking”, adding: “We must keep our children safe at all costs. I’ve instructed the related ministers to take immediate action to ensure the children’s safety in going to and leaving school.”

US President Donald Trump, who is currently in Japan on a state visit, offered his “prayers and sympathy” to the victims.

“All Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families,” he said.

Despite Japan’s extremely low rate of violent crime, mass killings do occasionally happen there.

In 2016, a man who claimed he wanted to kill people with disabilities killed 19 people and injured 26 others in a knife attack at a care facility near Tokyo, The Guardian reports. The paper adds that in 2001, eight children died and 19 other children were injured when a man “forced his way into a primary school and began a frenzied knife attack”.

In 2008, seven people were killed by one man in a vehicle-ramming and stabbing incident in Tokyo.

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