OSAKA — The man who was arrested Friday in the fatal stabbing of eight pupils at an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, said he committed the crimes in a bid to be sent to the gallows, sources said Monday.

Mamoru Takuma, 37, reportedly told police, “I thought I certainly will be sentenced to die if I kill many children of the elite and intelligent.”

Takuma had earlier said he tried to kill himself on several occasions but was unable to do so, according to police.

Later on Monday, police said another kitchen knife, this one wrapped in newspaper, was found in a classroom for second graders where five children were killed, indicating the criminal’s intention to kill as many as possible.

Police suspect a white plastic bag found in the classroom of the state-run Osaka Kyoiku University Ikeda Elementary School was used by Takuma to conceal his weapons as he transported them from his car to the classroom.

Takuma has admitted driving to the school and carrying out the rampage, which left seven second-grade girls and one first-grade boy dead and 15 others, including two teachers, wounded, the sources said.

He was subdued by two teachers at the scene.

Police seized a hatchet, a kitchen knife, two ice picks and about 200 tablets, many of them tranquilizers, from his house in Ikeda.

Takuma was sent to prosecutors Sunday on specific charges of murdering Takahiro Totsuka, 6, and attempting to kill Kei Taguchi, 6, and two other children at the school at around 10:15 a.m. Friday.

Investigators limited the murder and attempted murder charges against him to the four cases because of “clear-cut” witness accounts, the sources said.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office asked the Osaka District Court to keep him for 10 days starting Sunday and the court agreed.

Law changes eyed

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi instructed senior officials of his government Monday to study revised steps for dealing with crimes committed by people suffering mental disorders, following Friday’s slaying of eight children by a man with a history of psychiatric problems, officials said.

Koizumi told Teijiro Furukawa, deputy chief Cabinet secretary, and Fumio Kishida, senior education vice minister, to study the possibility of changing the current system in the wake of such bloodshed, the officials said.

They did not elaborate on what changes are sought or the apparent shortcomings of current laws.

The government was to hold a meeting of senior ministry and agency officials later Monday to look into the matter, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said.

“This stems from the prime minister’s view that Japan’s safe society is crumbling,” Fukuda said.

Koizumi said during taping of a television program Saturday that the government and the Liberal Democratic Party should consider possible law revisions regarding crimes by the mentally ill.

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