A man has been arrested on suspicion of killing a passenger and injuring two others in a knife attack on a bullet train in Japan, police say.
The fatal stabbing occurred at about 22:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Saturday on board a Shinkansen train travelling from Tokyo to Osaka.
Police detained the suspect after storming the carriage when the vehicle stopped at Odawara station.
The train was carrying more than 800 passengers at the time of the incident.
Officials say a male passenger taken to hospital with neck wounds later died from his injuries. The other two victims are both women, according to local media.
The suspect, named as Ichiro Kojima, 22, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, a local police spokesman told AFP news agency.Mr Kojima told police he had picked victims at random and had been armed with “multiple bladed objects” on the train, Japanese broadcaster NHK reports.
Witnesses said passengers were in tears as they attempted to flee in panic.”All of a sudden, a lot of passengers were dashing… people panicked,” one male passenger told the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.
How common are such attacks?
They are rare in Japan, which has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the developed world.
In 2015, a man died after setting himself on fire on board a bullet train. A female passenger was also killed and more than 20 people were injured as the fire and smoke spread throughout the carriages.
According to another the japan times –
Following a violent assault that occurred shortly after a westbound bullet train departed Tokyo Station late Saturday night, a man was arrested after he stabbed one person to death and injured two others aboard the train.The suspect, identified by Kanagawa Prefectural Police as Ichiro Kojima, a 22-year-old unemployed resident of the city of Okazaki, in Aichi Prefecture, was arrested after police stormed the carriage after the train, carrying some 880 passengers, made an emergency stop at Odawara Station in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Under questioning, Kojima admitted carrying out the assault, saying that he did it as he was feeling frustrated and that he randomly attacked people on the train, according to the Kanagawa police spokesperson. Kojima said that he was not acquainted with any of the three victims.
He was initially arrested on a charge of alleged attempted murder, which police planned to switch to murder when his case is sent to the public prosecutor’s office.
The chaos began around 9:50 p.m., when a passenger on the Nozomi No. 265 train on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line made an emergency call to police, saying that there was a knife-wielding person aboard and that people were bleeding.
The phone call was made while the train, bound for Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture, was traveling on the section between Shin-Yokohama and Odawara stations, both in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Witnesses said some of the passengers were crying as they ran to other coaches, shouting “Just keep going ahead” and “(the suspect) has a knife.” Some were carrying seat cushions, apparently to protect themselves.
A female passenger told NHK: “Everyone fled and fell like one domino after another. I was scared to death.”
According to the Kanagawa Prefectural Police and other sources, the three victims were all believed to be passengers.
The three injured passengers were transported to a hospital in Odawara, but one of them, Kotaro Umeda, a 38-year-old man from Hyogo Prefecture, later died. He was slashed mainly in the neck. The other two, both women in their 20s, suffered minor injuries to their heads and shoulders, but were conscious and in stable condition, the sources said.
Kanagawa police will conduct an autopsy on Umeda to determine the exact cause of death. The man was apparently an employee of a company in Osaka.
The attack occurred in car No. 12 of the 16-car train. Police seized a knife when they arrested Kojima, and another knife was discovered at the crime scene.
The suspect is believed to have boarded the train at Tokyo Station, and had a ticket valid for travel to Nagoya Station.
After making the emergency stop at Odawara, the Nozomi Shinkansen train traveled to Mishima Station, in Shizuoka Prefecture, where all the passengers were transferred to the next shinkansen train.
The suspect left home in Okazaki last December, according to an 81-year-old woman who is believed to be a relative of Kojima.
After being hospitalized to be treated for mental illness, he started working in Okazaki but then moved out of the woman’s house, where he had lived since around the age of 20.
“I have been always worried about him,” the woman said in a telephone interview early Sunday. She had called his mobile phone several times recently but was unable to talk with Kojima directly.
In June 2015, a 71-year-old man committed suicide on a westbound Nozomi train on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line by pouring gasoline over himself and setting himself on fire when the train was also traveling on the Shin-Yokohama-Odawara section.
In addition to the man, a female passenger, aged 52, also died.
Following that incident, Central Japan Railway Co., also known as JR Tokai, which operates the shinkansen line, announced a decision to move up its plan to install more security cameras in its bullet trains.
However, it is difficult to check passengers’ baggage considering the huge numbers of people traveling on shinkansen trains.
According to JR Central, an average of 446,000 passengers used Tokaido Shinkansen Line trains each day during fiscal 2015.