In the Japanese metropolis of Tokyo, a car driver has rammed in a busy shopping area pedestrians, according to media reports, at least nine people were injured.
The driver was arrested and told the police that he wanted to commit a terrorist attack, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported on New Year’s Day. Accordingly, the 21-year-old described the act as a revenge for an execution and did not recognize any remorse after the incident, which occurred shortly after midnight. He is now being investigated for attempted murder.
According to Kyodo, however, the authorities considered some statements and actions of the man questionable. They therefore checked whether he was guilty of his state of mind.
One of the injured was in critical condition, as Kyodo reported, citing police officers. The driver had fled the scene, but the police had found him in a nearby park and arrested. According to the report, the man told the investigators that he wanted to kill the pedestrians.
It was initially unclear whether the alleged anger of the man was directed against a single execution or against the system of capital punishment. As the third largest economic nation in the world, Japan is one of the few industrialized countries to hold the death penalty. Just last week, the right-wing conservative government executed two murderers sentenced to death, and in July, several members of the end-time sect Aum Shinrikyo, who had shocked the country 23 years ago with a deadly poison gas attack on Tokyo’s subway, ended up being killed.
International criticism of the death penalty is beating off the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Human rights activists have denounced the handling of executions and the conditions of detention in Japan for many years – for example, the death row candidates are not informed of the time of their execution. Those sentenced to death often live for years in solitary confinement. Since Abe took office in December 2012, 36 people have been executed.