A knife-wielding man rampaged through a Tokyo Metro train on Sunday, setting a fire and injuring at least 17 passengers as commuters headed into the city center for Halloween festivities, Japan’s NHK public television reported. An arrest has been made by police.
Police said that the assailant wore a “character outfit” that could have resembled a Halloween costume or a comic book character, Kyodo News reported.
A 24-year-old man was arrested at the scene and was under investigation. According to NHK, he told police that he was planning to murder at least two persons to get the death penalty.
At least one person, a man in his 70s, was stabbed and is in serious condition, according to Japanese media. The number of people who were hurt by the knife or fire, as well as the chaos that ensued when passengers fled the area was unclear. An express train from Keio Line stopped at an incontinence stop to allow passengers to disembark.
Such attacks are relatively rare in Japan, but Sunday’s incident was the second knife assault on a train in recent months.
In early August, just before the Closing Ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics, a man stabbed 10 passengers on a commuter train in Tokyo, Kyodo News reported at the time.
Yusuke Tsushima, 36, was charged with attempted murder in that attack. According to police, he claimed that he had been trying for six years to murder happy-looking women. According to Kyodo news, “Anyone would have been fine.”
Tsushima told police he was feeling rejected at social gatherings and in dating services, the news agency reported.
“I thought I could kill a large number of people as there is no space to flee on a train,” he told police, according to Kyodo News.
The 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report ranked Japan at 120 out of 156 countries on gender parity.
Social media videos from Sunday’s attack showed passengers trying desperately to flee the smoke-filled train car. One person was captured climbing out of windows. Around 8:20 p.m., local time was the attack.
Witnesses told police that the attacker first stabbed people and then poured lighter fluid and set a fire, burning some seats, the Associated Press reported.
Some witnesses told Japanese media that they initially thought the attack was a Halloween-related stunt.