A Japanese man who went on a stabbing rampage at a facility for the mentally disabled, killing 19 people and injuring 25 others, appears to have been fuelled by hatred.
Satoshi Uematsu, 26, had been sacked from the unit and had reportedly sent a letter to Parliament outlining his bloody plan.
The 40-minute attack in the early hours of yesterday was the deadliest mass killing in Japan in decades.
Twenty of the wounded were seriously injured.
Uematsu drove up in a black car, carrying several knives to the Tsukui Yamayuri-en facility in Sagamihara, 50km west of Tokyo, according to security camera footage broadcast on TV news programmes.
He broke in via a window at 2.10am, according to a prefectural health official, and then set about slashing the patients’ throats.
Details of the attack, and whether the victims were asleep or otherwise helpless, were not immediately known, although a cryptic letter he sent to Japan’s Parliament in February gave a glimpse into Uematsu’s dark turmoil.
He calmly turned himself in about two hours after the attack, police said.
Tsukui Yamayuri-en, which means mountain lily garden, was a facility Uematsu knew well, having worked there since 2012 until he was fired in February.
Shortly after he was fired, he tried to hand-deliver a letter he wrote to Parliament’s lower house speaker demanding that all disabled people be put to death through “a world that allows for mercy killing”, Kyodo news agency and TBS TV reported.
Uematsu boasted in the letter that he had the ability to kill 470 disabled people in what he called was “a revolution”, and outlined an attack on two facilities, after which he said he would turn himself in.
He also asked that he be judged innocent on grounds of insanity, be given 500m yen (€4.3m) in aid, and receive plastic surgery so he could lead a normal life afterwards.
The letter was reprinted by Kyodo after the attack.
“My reasoning is that I may be able to revitalise the world economy and I thought it may be possible to prevent World War III,” the rambling letter says.
The letter, passed to Tokyo police, included Uematsu’s name, address and telephone number, and reports of his threats were relayed to local police where Uematsu lived, Kyodo said.
Kanagawa governor Yuji Kuroiwa apologised for having failed to act on the warning signs.
From his time working at the facility, Uematsu was known to people in the area, and some said he was so polite and upstanding that they found the news shocking.
Akihiro Hasegawa, who lived next door to Uematsu, said he heard Uematsu had got into trouble with the facility, initially over sporting a tattoo, often frowned upon in mainstream Japanese society because of its association with criminal groups.
“He was just an ordinary young fellow,” he said.
Yasuyuki Deguchi, a criminologist, said Uematsu’s actions were typical of someone who bears a grudge and seeks revenge, because it appeared he planned out the attack, and then he turned himself into police.
“Accomplishing his goal was all he wanted,” Mr Deguchi said on TV Asahi.
Michael Gillan Peckitt, a lecturer in clinical philosophy at Osaka University in central Japan, and an expert on disabled people’s issues in Japan, said the attack speaks more about Uematsu than the treatment of the disabled in Japan.
“It highlights the need for an early-intervention system in the Japanese mental health system,” he said. “Someone doesn’t get to that state without some symptoms of mental illness.”
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