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Pedestrians mowed down on sidewalk

Driver in Nagoya rents car, runs over 13 people

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

A man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder after intentionally steering his car onto a sidewalk and hitting 13 pedestrians near Nagoya Station, the police said.

“I tried to kill people with the car,” Ryota Onogi, 30, was quoted as telling investigators after he was apprehended following the 2:15 p.m. incident.

According to the police, the car got onto the sidewalk after making a left turn at an intersection and bowled over pedestrians for about 35 meters before crashing into a tree and stopping, the police said.

Onogi was caught on the spot.

The most seriously wounded of the 13 victims was a 22-year-old man who sustained a broken hip, police said. The others had minor injuries.

The car was going about 35 kph to 40 kph when it plowed into the crowd, the police said.

Onogi, an unemployed resident of Nagoya, rented the car from an agency some 400 meters away from the crime scene at around 2 p.m., just 15 minutes before the rampage.

An employee at the rental agency said Monday that Onogi rented the vehicle for six hours, the shortest period available. “There was nothing strange about the suspect,” the employee added.

The rampage left residents and acquaintances in the neighborhood in disbelief.

“He was not the kind of person who would cause such an incident,” a neighbor said. “He would always greet people.”

Onogi’s house in the neighborhood in west Nagoya appeared empty Sunday, with the drapes shut and garage door closed. No one answered the bell.

Sources familiar with the investigation said Onogi’s father is a superintendent at Aichi Prefectural Police headquarters.

Yasuei Kitazawa, Onogi’s third-year classmate in junior high school, said he hadn’t had any recent contact with him but noted he “never would have expected him to cause such an incident.”

Onogi was rather quiet in school, Kitazawa, 30, said.

Another former classmate said Onogi got good grades but he did not stand out.

A 57-year-old neighbor said she heard Onogi had lived with his family earlier but was living alone before the rampage.

  • Tim

    But… but…but he always greeted people? It doesn’t make sense!

  • disqus_78r6IPfptX

    An acquaintance of the suspect is quoted saying “He was not the kind of
    person who would cause such an incident. He would always greet people.” It irks me because the second observation has nothing to do with the first observation. It’s an irrational statement. But the exact same thing happens all over the world. In America neighbors of shooting spree suspects or exposed serial killers proclaim, “He was a nice man,” or alternately, “He kept to himself. He didn’t have any friends.” I suppose all of these statements are culturally-shaped strategies to distance ourselves from shocking events and thereby put things in an order or framework to make sense of it all. One thing we know for certain is that the people who commit these incidents and heinous crimes are, in fact, exactly the kind of people who do them.

    In Japan greetings are very important. When you enter your workplace you are expected to shout out a loud and hearty “Ohayo!!” Never mind how you really feel. Failure to do so makes you suspicious. It’s strange because in the name of totally artificial social harmony people prize or pretend to prize the appearance of friendly greetings even in the full knowledge of their insincerity. I used to work
    in a Japanese office where the manager periodically conducted 15-minute
    tutorials on proper greeting technique. I hated him for that. He didn’t understand that by doing so he was doing more to undermine good human relations in the office than nurture them. In fact, that’s a common failing in Japan where management often wastes people’s precious time by holding overly long, obnoxious meetings that ought to take no more than a few minutes.

    To live in society requires constant pretence and suspension of belief. I want to say that life in Japan requires more pretence and fantasy than elsewhere, but that is probably untrue.