The Yomiuri ShimbunKAWASAKI — The man who went on a stabbing spree in Tama Ward, Kawasaki, on Tuesday used two thin knives about 30 centimeters in length, according to investigative sources.
Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, a resident of Asao Ward of the city, committed suicide immediately after allegedly killing a man and a Caritas Elementary School student, as well as injuring a woman and 16 other children.
The Kanagawa prefectural police believe that Iwasaki procured the weapons with a strong intent to kill people as the knives are thought to be new.
Iwasaki wielded knives in both hands when he attacked victims at about 7:40 a.m. on Tuesday, according to investigators.
A security camera at a nearby convenience store captured Iwasaki leaving his backpack on the store premises before starting the attack, they said. Police also found two more knives in the backpack.
Other security cameras at train stations observed him walking to an Odakyu Line station after leaving his house at about 7 a.m. and taking a train to Noborito Station, which is close to where the attack occurred.
Iwasaki headed directly to the crime scene and immediately attacked the children and other bystanders.
The prefectural police searched Iwasaki’s residence on suspicion of murder on Wednesday.
Over 10 yrs of social withdrawal
The Kawasaki municipal government revealed it had received a consultation from a relative of Iwasaki over Iwasaki’s withdrawal from society, which began at least 10 years ago.
At a press conference, the municipal government said Iwasaki had lived with an aunt and uncle in their 80s. The relative had sought advice from the city since 2017 due to concerns about the couple’s age.
Iwasaki rarely talked with his aunt and uncle, was unemployed and almost never left home, and the relative was worried about Iwasaki’s reaction if a nursing care worker were to visit the house.
The relative consulted the city office 14 times through January.
When his aunt left a letter in front of his room in January based on advice from the city government, he was quoted as saying, “I take care of myself. What do you mean I’m in withdrawal?”
School bus considered safe
The stabbing rampage occurred shortly before the children were to board a school bus, a method of transportation thought to be safer than going to school by foot.
Several measures have been adopted nationwide against possible attacks, including prevention of intrusions onto school premises by suspicious people, enhanced monitoring of school routes, and ensuring students walk in groups to and from school to ensure children are not alone.
Such measures, however, did not prevent the recurrence of another unexpected rampage. Schools are at a loss over how to cope with such problems.