After an attack at a disabled facility outside Tokyo, Japan, by a knife-wielding suspect earlier today, at least 19 are dead and questions continue to mount.
According to the Guardian, the suspect was quoted as saying that he wanted to “get rid of the disabled from this world,” while the New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Motoko Rich said that the knife wielding suspect in the attack outside Tokyo, Japan said disabled people should “disappear.”
The National Post reports the suspect, a former employee, broke into the facility with a knife and came armed with a bag full of sharp objects, several of which were bloodstained, according to the Guardian. Stabbings are reportedly more common in Japan than are gun crimes; there was only one gun death in the country in 2015, and all of eight crimes attributed to guns in the same time span.
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If suspicions of the suspect’s motives prove true, it could mark one of the first times hate crimes against disabled people have been perpetrated so overtly in modern history. There are reports, according to the Independent, that hate crimes against the disabled have “soared” up to 40 percent over the last year, particularly since the Brexit vote, but to be sure, to see such crimes in Japan is rare.
There are higher-profile stabbings, though this marks one of the worst committed by a single perpetrator in Japan’s history. The death toll in this knife-related crime outside Tokyo was even worse than the 1995 sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway. Then, 12 were killed and 50 were injured. The crime in that case was carried out by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. Generally, knife crimes in Japan appear to be what occurs as Japan has very strict gun laws.
The call about the knife-wielding suspect came into the police station at about 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when an employee called and said that something “horrible” was happening at the facility, according to CBC News. The facility, the Tsukui Yamayuri Garden, houses people with a range of physical abilities and ages, with residents of the facility ranging in age from 18 to 75 years.
There was some initial confusion as to the number of victims in the knife related attack in the residential facility just outside of Tokyo. Initially, it was estimated that 15 were killed, but that number has since been elevated to 19. The suspect in the stabbings that occurred in the Tsukui Yamayuri Garden outside of Tokyo, Japan, was reportedly employed by the facility, though no motive for the knife related crime has been released as yet.
The knife wielding suspect has been identified as Satoshi Uematsu, according to Reuters, and one man who arrived on scene after reports of the knife attack broke at the facility said he had never heard of any trouble at Tsukui Yamayuri Garden.
29 police units apparently arrived at the site of the knife attack, located in Sagamihara, just outside Tokyo. It appears that, with the Tsukui police station a short 15-minute drive from the residential facility, either the attack was underway when police were called or the knife attack was committed extremely quickly.
The wounded in the knife attack were taken to six area hospitals, and many of the victims are still in serious condition. Uematsu has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and trespassing in this knife related crime, leaving it to fall into modern Japan’s history as one of the worst single perpetrator mass murders in the country’s history.
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It took Uematsu all of two hours following the attack to turn himself into the police, and in arriving at the police station, he reportedly said, “I did it.”
This is not the first time that Sagamihara, just 40 kilometers from Tokyo, Japan, made international headlines. The last time the community made the international press was 2012, according to New York Times, when the suspect involved in the 1995 sarin gas attack was arrested there. That has quickly changed with the arrest of Uematsu and one of the worst knife attacks committed by a single perpetrator that Japan has seen in its modern history.
[AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko]