Ten people aboard a commuter train in Tokyo, Japan, were stabbed by a man wielding a knife on August 6. Though the attacker fled after committing the crime, he eventually handed himself over to the police. There were 400 people aboard the train when the attack took place.
Nine of the passengers were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment. They were conscious despite their injuries. The tenth passenger went home. One woman in her 20s was seriously injured with multiple stab wounds on her chest and back. The attack took place on an Odakyu Electric Railway Co. train in Setagaya ward, a few kilometers away from the Olympic equestrian events.
The attacker, identified as Yusuke Tsushima, began punching and stabbing people on the train at around 8:30 p.m. He moved between three train cars while attacking people. Tsushima also poured salad oil on the floor in an effort to set it on fire. However, the fire did not break out.
The train was brought to an emergency stop close to a nearby station after the rail operator was made aware of the situation. The passengers ran out shouting that there was a stabbing and asked for first aid. Soon, dozens of police and paramedics arrived at the station. Authorities found an abandoned mobile phone and knife which they believe belonged to the attacker.
“There were a lot of people with blood on their clothes and running away in panic,” a 19-year-old university student, who was on the train at the time of the incident, said to Kyodo News.
A 20-year-old male passenger said that another passenger ran into his car, warning that a man was swinging around a knife. “Run for your lives,” he shouted. The passenger also saw a woman who crouched down on the floor, covered in blood.
Meanwhile, Tsushima fled from the train once it came to a stop. However, he eventually visited a convenience store and confessed his crime, saying that he was “tired of fleeing.” The store owner eventually called the police who immediately came and took the man into custody.
Earlier, 36-year-old Tsushima was suspected of shoplifting from a grocery store and the staff member had informed the police about the incident. Talking to the police, Tsushima said that he initially planned on returning to the grocery store and killing the staffer. However, since the shop was closed, “I thought of killing people on the train.”
“I have been wanting to kill a happy-looking woman for the past six years. Anyone would have been okay… I thought I could kill a large number of people as there is no space to flee on a train,” Tsushima told the police.
Odayaku temporarily suspended train operations between Shinjuku station in Tokyo and Mukogaoka-yuen Station in Kawasaki following the knife attack. Given that Tokyo is presently hosting the Olympics, the country’s transport ministry has asked railway companies to boost their surveillance activities with cameras and security staff.
Japan has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. According to 2018 data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Japan’s intentional homicide victims per 100,000 inhabitants was just 0.26. The country with the highest rate was El Salvador with a count of 52.02. The homicide victim rate in the United States is 4.96.
The overall crime rate of Japan is also on the lower side. In fact, the number of crimes in 2020 hit the lowest level in postwar Japan for the sixth straight year. The country recorded 614,303 criminal cases last year, down 17.9 percent from 2019.
“Changes in society such as the spread of ‘the new normal’ (amid the pandemic) will continue to impact the future crime situation… But it’s possible that there are more victims of abuse, domestic violence, and stalking who remain hidden, so we will take preventative measures by responding promptly to consultations,” an official from the National Police Agency (NPA) said to Japan Times.