Tokyo killer had arsenal of knives

The man who killed seven people in a stabbing rampage in Tokyo had an arsenal of knives during the attack, police said today.

Meanwhile an electronics firm cancelled a launch event for a game featuring a character armed with a huge dagger.

Tomohiro Kato, the 25-year-old factory worker arrested splattered with blood after Sunday’s assault, had two knives on him, apparently dropped another one during the attack and had two more stashed in his knapsack in a nearby truck, a police spokesman said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said Kato apparently only used one of the knives to stab more than a dozen people in Tokyo’s trendy Akihabara electronics district.

Police searched Kato’s apartment yesterday and seized empty packages that had contained knives and a club. They also found catalogues and receipts for the weapons.

The assault began when a driver crashed a rental truck into a group of pedestrians, killing three of them. He jumped out of the truck and slashed his way through the crowd, killing four more people with his knife before his arrest.

The attack horrified Japan, where news reports and talk shows have focused on the mystery of Kato’s motivations, his troubled personality and a string of messages he sent to an internet bulletin board – the last one minutes before the violence – foretelling what he was about to do.

Amid rising concerns about street violence, gamemaker Konami cancelled three launch events scheduled in Tokyo – including one in Akihabara – tomorrow for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, an action game in which a grizzled commando shoots and stabs his way through enemy lines.

Konami cancelled the events with the “safety of participants in mind”, though similar events in the US would go ahead, a spokesman said. The game is stamped with a “mature” rating due to graphic blood and violence.

Sunday’s killings stirred fears about rising street violence involving knives, but police statistics show the number of attacks rising and falling over the years.

The National Police Agency said there were 67 multiple street stabbings over the past decade, the highest number – 10 – in 1998. There were four attacks in 2006, but that jumped to eight last year.

Media reports of Kato drew a picture of an increasingly desperate young man who had recently quit his job in a fit of rage and posted angry, despondent messages on an internet bulletin board, warning he was planning to commit murder.

Japanese media said the postings showed a deeply disturbed man raging against society and vowing to get revenge by unleashing his fury on the streets of Akihabara, a mecca of electronic goods stores and a centre of Japan’s comic book and anime culture.

National broadcaster NHK has also shown surveillance footage of Kato purchasing hunting knives at an outdoor and camping shop two days before the attack. Kato is seen on the tape laughing with the salesman and at times making stabbing motions with his hands.

A police spokesman said today that Kato had been co-operative during questioning but was clearly a very troubled person.

“Whenever he talked about his upbringing, he started crying,” the spokesman said.

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