The suspect in a knife rampage that killed seven in Tokyo was handed to prosecutors today, amid reports depicting an angry, lonely young man who meticulously planned the deadly attack.
Tomohiro Kato, a 25-year-old factory worker, was transferred from police custody to a holding cell at the Tokyo prosecutors’ office, where he was expected to undergo further questioning over Sunday’s attack in which he allegedly slammed a rented truck into a crowd of pedestrians then jumped out and began a stabbing spree.
A police spokesman said Kato had at times broken down in tears during questioning. He said the suspect had been unapologetic, but otherwise co-operative.
Three people were killed by the impact of the truck and four others died of stab wounds, police said. Another 10 were injured. Kato, blood spattered on his face and clothes, was arrested on the spot. It was the worst murder rampage in Tokyo in recent memory.
According to Japanese media reports, Kato told police that he went to Akihabara the day before the rampage to plan his assault. The popular shopping district is a hangout for young people and a centre of Japan’s comic book and computer game culture.
Police refused to confirm those reports.
Though the motive for the crime remained a mystery, more details came out in the media today about Kato’s background and his metamorphosis from award-winning high school tennis player to secluded and virtually friendless temporary worker in a factory outside Tokyo.
Three days before the attack, Kato lost his temper at the car parts factory where he worked in Shizuoka, about 100 miles south west of Tokyo, said company executive Osamu Namai.
“He was screaming that his uniform was missing. When his colleague got a new uniform for him, he had already left and never returned,” Mr Namai told reporters.
Mr Namai, however, added that Kato was a “very serious” worker and had not stood out as a troublemaker.
National broadcaster NHK reported that Kato bought a knife with a 5in blade at a camping and outdoor supply shop two days before the attack. Surveillance video showed him laughing with the shopkeeper and at times making stabbing motions with his hands.
In the days leading up to the attack, Kato also sent a slew of postings from his mobile phone to an internet bulletin board, police said.
Though officials refused to comment further, Japanese media said the postings showed a very disturbed man raging against society and vowing to get revenge by unleashing his fury on the streets of Akihabara. The main street in Akihabara is closed to traffic on Sundays, allowing large crowds of pedestrians to flow into the area.
A chronicle of Kato’s messages, carried by The Asahi, a major newspaper, portrayed a man at breaking point:
“Oh, I am hopeless,” he reportedly wrote two days before the attack. “What I want to do: commit murder. My dream: to monopolise the tabloid TV shows. ... I saw a loving couple at a river bank. I wish they were killed by (being) swept away by the river.”
“Since I was young, I was forced to play a ’good boy’,” he wrote the next day. “I’m used to deceiving people.”
Just 20 minutes before the attack, he posted his last message: “It’s time.”
No charges have been filed against Kato.
Under Japanese law, a suspect can be held by police for two days and then must be transferred to the custody of prosecutors, who have 20 days to either file charges or release the suspect.