Rightist arrested over killing of politician

Tokyo police arrested a rightwing extremist Saturday for allegedly stabbing to death Diet member Koki Ishii a day earlier in front of his home in Setagaya Ward.

Hakusui Ito, 48, turned himself in to the police earlier in the day and admitted stabbing Ishii, a House of Representatives member from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

Ito told investigators, “I did it,” according to the police.

Ito is a representative of an extreme-right organization called Shukojuku, which means “emperor protection corps,” and had visited Ishii’s office about once a month for the past few years, investigative sources said.

Asked about a motive for the murder, Ito reportedly told the police, “I asked lawmaker Ishii to help me with my rent, but he didn’t come up with the money.”

Ito was evicted Oct. 17 from his apartment in Setagaya Ward because he had rent arrears of about 2 million yen, the sources said. He had been living at the apartment since 1998.

“There were differences in ways of thinking and there were emotional entanglements between me and Mr. Ishii,” police quoted Ito as saying.

Ishii was stabbed in front of his house around 10:40 a.m. Friday and rushed to a hospital, where he died shortly after noon.

The DPJ released a statement on the arrest of Ito on Saturday afternoon.

“For now, we are relieved,” DPJ Secretary General Kansei Nakano, 61, said in the statement. “But the complete picture of the incident, including the motives and background, is not yet clear, and we will continue to request a complete revelation of the facts of the incident by the law enforcement authorities.

“The DPJ will not tolerate in any way this kind of violence and injustice,” he said. “We will do our best to strive for the realization of a fair, just and safe society.”

Ishii is the third Diet member to be stabbed to death since the end of World War II and the first in more than a decade following an attack by a deranged man on former Labor Minister Hyosuke Niwa, who died of stab wounds Oct. 21, 1990.

On Oct. 12, 1960, a rightwing youth assassinated Inejiro Asanuma, chairman of the Japan Socialist Party, while he was giving a speech in Tokyo. The Japan Socialist Party was later renamed the Social Democratic Party.

Ishii was active in exposing financial scandals, including those involving Muneo Suzuki, a lawmaker who was all but ousted from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party in March.

Ishii also played an active part in exposing the activities of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Russia.

The police had been searching for Ito based on witnesses’ descriptions of the suspect. Ito showed up at the Metropolitan Police Department alone shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday, dressed in a new yellow jacket after he disposed of the clothes he was wearing during the crime, the police said.

After stabbing Ishii, Ito fled to Mount Takao in western Tokyo, but later returned to Tokyo’s Shinjuku district and roamed around coffee shops for the night, they said.

Neighbors around Ito’s apartment said he had been acting unusually for the past month.

“There was a time when (Ito) hit a utility pole with a wooden sword in the middle of the night and police came,” one resident said.

Ito had been arrested for possession of weapons in July last year, when he was found throwing a knife at a tree in a park in Ota Ward’s Denenchofu residential neighborhood.

In January 1988, Ito showed up at Japanese Communist Party headquarters carrying a knife and was arrested on a charge of possessing a weapon.