Japanese police on Friday arrested a young farmer suspected of killing four people, including two policemen, in Nakano, Nagano Prefecture (central Japan), an "act of extreme hatred" that shocked the whole country.
Masanori Aoki, 31, is suspected of first fatally stabbing a woman with a long knife on Thursday afternoon in the countryside.
He then reportedly killed two police officers who arrived on the scene with a shotgun, before retreating to the nearby house where he lived with his father, Nakano municipal councilor, his mother and his aunt, according to local media.
The two women managed to escape one after the other from the house during the night, while the building was surrounded by the police and sporadic gunfire was heard.
Another woman who had been injured nearby without help being able to intervene died, bringing the death toll to four.
The motive of the alleged killer remains unknown at this time. "He grew grapes, he was a calm person. I really don't know why he did such a thing," a neighbor told Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
He was arrested around 4:30 a.m. Friday (1930 GMT Thursday), a local police spokesman told AFP. He was later taken into custody for murder.
Masanori Aoki does not dispute the facts, Nagano Prefecture Police Chief Iwao Koyama told a news conference.
"It was an act of extreme hatred that shocked not only the inhabitants of the department but the whole of Japanese society," said Mr. Koyama.
"We must investigate this case very carefully, to shed light, to understand the why and how," he added, adding that 100 investigators were mobilized on this file.
"I was working on a farm when just after 4:00 p.m. (Thursday, editor's note), a woman came running from the road saying help me and then she fell," a 72-year-old witness told NHK.
“Behind her was a man in camouflage with a long knife, who stabbed her in the back,” added this witness, who explained that he then called the emergency services, while neighbors tried in vain to resuscitate him. the victim on the ground.
"I killed her because I wanted to," the alleged murderer allegedly told him, according to this witness.
Shortly after, the suspect allegedly attacked two police officers who had just arrived at the scene, apparently with a shotgun. The police were inside their vehicle, and the maniac would have placed his weapon against a window and fired twice, according to NHK.
The inhabitants of the surroundings, a usually very peaceful area with rice fields and agricultural greenhouses, had been called by the local authorities to confine themselves.
"We pray for the souls of the deceased and express our sincere condolences to the bereaved families," government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday during a regular press briefing.
Murders are rare in Japan, where the carrying of firearms is highly regulated. In 2022, only four people had been shot dead in this country of 125 million inhabitants.
But Japan was rocked last year by the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, killed with a homemade firearm while delivering an election speech in Nara, in the west of the country.
And last month, a young man was arrested after throwing an improvised explosive device in the direction of the Prime Minister in office Fumio Kishida, who was making a trip to a small fishing port in the department of Wakayama (west). Mr. Kishida escaped unscathed.
05/26/2023 09:39:25 - Tokyo (AFP) - © 2023 AFP