Police in western Japan arrested a woman suspected of stabbing to death two young children who were found dumped on a roadside in a remote farming area.
The 34-year-old woman has not been charged, but police are investigating the case as a suspected murder, said Shiga prefectural (state) police official Takashi Yoshida.
She was identified as a Chinese woman living in Japan, according to another Shiga prefectural police spokesman who identified himself only by his surname, Fujimori.
The arrested woman is the mother of another student at a nursery, and was seen collecting the two five-year-olds from their home to drive them and her own child to the school, Kyodo News agency reported.
Yoshida said the mothers took turns driving the children to nursery and that he believed it had been the suspect’s turn today.
The children, a boy and girl, were found stabbed early today on a roadside in the city of Nagahama in Shiga prefecture, about 35 miles north-east of Otsu, Yoshida said.
Wakana Taketomo, the girl, was already dead, and Jin Sano, the boy, died after he was taken to a hospital, he said.
Both had both been stabbed several times, according to Fujimori.
Kyodo said the arrested woman admitted to police that she stabbed the children, and police found a knife in her car.
Fujimori said the woman’s own daughter was unharmed.
Television images showed the place where the children were discovered – a remote road running through farmland. It would not be the usual route to the nursery, Fujimori said.
The stabbings followed a number of grisly crimes targeting schoolchildren that have horrified Japan and dealt a serious blow to its image as a safe country.
In December, a seven-year-old girl was found stabbed to death in a forest north-east of Tokyo, but no suspect has been apprehended. Later, a 12-year-old girl died in western Japan, allegedly stabbed by a teacher, who has been arrested.
The number of crimes against children in Japan rose 2% from 2000-2004, but murders of children jumped 50% – from 20 in 2000 to 30 in 2004.