Rare gun and knife attack in Japan leaves four dead
May 26, 2023 08:03 am
A man has been arrested after four people were killed in a rare shooting and stabbing attack in Japan.
The alleged assailant stabbed a woman and shot two policemen with a hunting rifle in Nagano prefecture. A fourth death was later confirmed.
Police have named the suspect as Masanori Aoki, the 31-year-old son of a local politician.
Gun violence remains extremely rare in Japan, despite the killing of ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July last year.
According to Japanese news agency Kyodo, police received a call at around 16:25 (07:25 GMT) about a man who had chased and then stabbed a woman.
An eyewitness working in a nearby field told Kyodo that the man’s attack on his first victim had been carried out with a blade around 30cm (1ft) long.
His motive is not clear. When the witness asked the suspect why he had stabbed the woman, he is said to have replied: “I killed her because I wanted to.”
Mr Aoki - who was reportedly wearing a camouflage uniform, a hat, sunglasses and a mask - then allegedly shot police officers who responded to the emergency.
It was not immediately clear how the fourth person - described as an elderly woman - had died.
Mr Aoki later barricaded himself for hours inside his father’s home in a quiet residential area of Nakano city. His father, Masamichi Aoki, is the speaker of Nakano city’s assembly.
Footage from Japanese broadcaster NHK showed police vehicles and ambulances near the home. Police officers wearing body armour and carrying shields formed a 300m (328 yards) exclusion zone around the house.
The suspect later stepped out of the house and was detained.
Residents were urged to stay at home via email announcements and on the neighbourhood loudspeaker, while police also went door to door.
Later in the evening, local media aired footage of gunshots being heard just after 20:00 local time (11:00 GMT) on Thursday.
Some residents had to spend the night elsewhere, while the local school was set to close.
But after the arrest, people were told they could go about their day.
A man in his 50s told NHK: “It’s sad something like this happened in my neighbourhood. I could not sleep all night.”
Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and his death profoundly shocked a country where handguns are banned and incidents of political violence are almost unheard of.
In 2014, there were just six incidents of gun deaths in Japan, compared with 33,599 in the US.
People have to undergo a strict exam and mental health tests in order to buy a gun. Even then, only shotguns and air rifles are allowed.