OSAKA — Mamoru Takuma, who was arrested in the June 8 massacre of eight schoolchildren, was involved in a court battle with his former wife in which he had recently dropped his demand for reconciliation and instead sought money from her, investigative sources said Friday.

A workman installs a security camera at Takakura Elementary School, site of the killing of eight students last week

At a May 22 court hearing, Takuma demanded his ex-wife pay him 15 million yen, claiming he was physically and mentally exhausted, a completely different stance from the time he sued to annul his divorce, the sources said. Takuma, 37, repeatedly tried to contact his former wife’s lawyer the day before the knife rampage at Ikeda Elementary School, the sources said, and police, quoted him as having said, “I’m fed up with everything.” Police believe the legal impasse could have been the final catalyst for the attack.

The lawyer said that as the two sides’ stands differed so widely at the May 22 hearing and Takuma’s had changed so dramatically, his demand was unlikely to be granted.

On May 23, Takuma checked into a hospital citing mental instability but was discharged the following day.

He had no source of income since quitting his last job in February. His rent and vehicle payments were overdue, and there was little prospect he would be awarded money in the suit against his former wife, the sources said.

Takuma filed the suit with the Himeji branch of the Kobe District Court in December 1999, seeking reconciliation.

At the time, he claimed the divorce was invalid, citing mental distress at the time he agreed to it. He did not hire a lawyer and represented himself in court.

Meanwhile, the trauma of the stabbing spree apparently has not only affected school children and staff, but also rescue workers at the scene.

Takashi Kamitani, 43, head of the Ikeda Fire Station rescue squad, recalled the incident: “A school teacher who led me to the classrooms was also bleeding. The scene was so disastrous I can’t believe what happened, even now.” Yutaka Yamamura, a rescuer with the Kawanishi Minami Fire Station, said, “When I close my eyes, the scene reappears in my mind.”

Yamamura, 45, treated a girl at the scene who later died in a hospital.

Takuma is suspected of storming into several classrooms at the state-run elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, on the morning of June 8 and stabbing eight children to death with a kitchen knife and wounding 15 others before he was subdued.

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