In a rare instance of rampage in Japan, a 21-year-old man in a rented car deliberately ploughed into pedestrians on a famous Tokyo street, which was closed to vehicles for the New Year, injuring nine people.
Kazuhiro Kusakabe, who was arrested for attempted murder, confessed to having the intent to kill when he rammed his car through Harajuku’s Takeshita Street at 12.10am on Tuesday (Jan 1) (11.10pm on Monday, Singapore time), said the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
At first, Kusakabe claimed that he wanted to commit “an act of terror” but later said he was “acting in retaliation of the death penalty system”. He also said there was no need for him “to make any excuses for his action”.
Kusakabe, whose occupation is unknown, knocked down eight men aged between 19 and 51 as he drove through about a third of the 350m street, which was closed to vehicular traffic at the time. He came to a stop when he crashed the rented vehicle into a building. The vehicle bore an Osaka licence plate.
One of those injured, a 19-year-old undergraduate, remains unconscious in critical condition in hospital. Four others suffered severe injuries such as fractures and head injuries, while the remaining three suffered minor bruises.
The ninth victim, a 19-year-old man, was assaulted by Kusakabe after he fled on foot. He was arrested 20 minutes later at the nearby Yoyogi Park.
Takeshita Street, regarded as the epicentre of Tokyo’s eccentric youth culture, was closed to all vehicles from 10pm on Monday to 5am Tuesday, as heavy foot traffic was expected to and from the nearby Meiji Jingu, a major shrine where Japanese pray for good luck in the new year.
Kusakabe reportedly told the police that he planned to attack at the Meiji Shrine, but had been deterred by massive road blocks in the area.
A tank with 20 litres of kerosene was also found inside the rented car, which he said was intended to be used to set the vehicle ablaze after the rampage.