Jun 10, 2018
YOKOHAMA - A man with a knife went on a rampage aboard a shinkansen bullet train bound for Shin-Osaka Station from Tokyo late Saturday, killing one passenger and injuring two others, police said.
The police arrested Ichiro Kojima, a 22-year-old unemployed man, on suspicion of attempted murder when the Nozomi train made an emergency stop near Odawara Station southwest of Tokyo. Kojima told investigators he randomly stabbed the three because he was "feeling frustrated."
The incident occurred around 10 p.m. in the No. 12 car of the shinkansen train of 16 coaches, when it was traveling between Shin-Yokohama and Odawara stations. There were around 880 passengers aboard the Nozomi 265, the day's last train bound for Shin-Osaka, according to Central Japan Railway Co., also known as JR Central.
The rampage on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line killed Kotaro Umeda, a 38-year-old man from Hyogo Prefecture. Two women in their 20s sustained injuries to their heads and shoulders, the police said.
Investigators found two knives in the car where the attack took place.
Witnesses spoke of 20 to 30 passengers including many young women panicking and escaping from the direction of the No. 12 car. The train was crowded with women thought to have attended an event.
Some of the passengers were crying as they were running to other coaches, shouting "Just keep going ahead" and "(the suspect) has a knife." Some were holding removed seats, apparently to protect themselves.
Kojima left home in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture in central Japan, last December, according to an 81-year-old woman believed to be a relative of the suspect.
After being hospitalized to treat a mental illness, he started to work in Okazaki but left the woman's house, where he had lived with her since around the age of 20.
"I have been always worried about him," the woman said in a telephone interview with Kyodo News early Sunday. She had kept calling his mobile phone but could not reach him recently.
The operators of shinkansen, often praised for its speed and punctuality, also boast its safety, with no fatalities having occurred due to derailments or malfunctions in its more than 50 years of service since 1964.
(Inside Odawara station shortly after the stabbing)
However, the high-speed trains have not been immune to crime. A few serious crimes have been committed on the trains, most recently in June 2015 when a 71-year-old man set himself on fire on a train, killing himself and another passenger.
The fire, which also occurred on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, prompted shinkansen operators to increase patrols at stations and install security cameras on trains.
However, it is difficult to check passengers' baggage considering the huge numbers of people using shinkansen.
According to JR Central, an average of 446,000 passengers used Tokaido Shinkansen trains per day in fiscal 2015.
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