Tue, Jun 10, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Tokyo stabber left Internet postings


People offer prayers for the victims of Sunday's knifing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara shopping district yesterday.


The man suspected of killing seven people in a knifing rampage in Tokyo foretold the mayhem in a series of messages posted to the Internet, including one just before the attack saying: "It’s time," police and media reports said yesterday.

Tomohiro Kato, accused of ramming pedestrians with a truck on Sunday and then stabbing 17 bystanders in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, posted a string of messages on an Internet bulletin board from his cellphone, a police spokesman said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, refused to release the messages, but news reports said they were posted in a threat titled: “I will kill people in Akihabara,” starting hours before the stabbings.

“I want to crash the vehicle and, if it becomes useless, I will then use a knife. Goodbye, everyone,” Kyodo News agency quoted one message as saying.

That was followed chillingly several hours later, the report said, by a message sent from Akihabara via cellphone that read: “It’s time.”

The killing started 20 minutes later.

The messages gave Japan a limited glimpse into the mind of man accused of one of the worst knife attacks in Japanese history. Police said the assault was the deadliest stabbing assault in Tokyo in recent memory.

Kato said he had “gotten sick of the world,” police said, but investigators were still trying to find out his motives and the reason why he chose Akihabara, or whether he had planned the criminal act over the past few days as reported.

Police say Kato — reportedly a factory worker — rammed a rented 2-tonne truck into a crowd of afternoon shoppers in Akihabara, a prime shopping area for electronic goods and a hangout for young people, particularly comic book fans.

Kato himself reportedly had a penchant for computer games and anime — like vast numbers of Japanese youths. Kyodo said he listed a female computer game character as his “favorite person” in his junior high-school yearbook.

After ramming the pedestrians, the driver jumped out and began stabbing the people he had knocked down with the truck before turning on horrified onlookers, police said.

The assault shocked Tokyo, which has a relatively low murder rate, because of its seeming mindlessness.

Yesterday, the crime scene was covered with offerings of flowers, comic books and soft drinks left for the souls of the dead. The offerings were shielded from the rain by a small white tent.

Guns are tightly restricted in Japan and shootings are extremely rare, with the one exception being gangsters, who most often use them against each other and do not generally victimize the general public.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told reporters yesterday that the government was considering tightening restrictions on large-bladed survival knives like the one apparently used in the attack, which had a 13cm blade and is easily available in stores.

Also See: EDITORIAL: Madness boils to the surface

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