NAGANO – Nagano Prefectural Police on Monday arrested a man who hijacked a bus after a brief standoff in a parking area on the Joshinetsu Highway.
The man had held the driver hostage at knifepoint in the Matsushiro parking area for about an hour after allowing the 33 passengers on board to leave.
The man eventually surrendered and the passengers and driver emerged from the incident unhurt.
Police later identified the man as 21-year-old Joji Hino of the city of Tochigi and were questioning him about the motive behind the hijacking.
According to investigators, Hino hijacked the vehicle near the Sakashiro bus stop on the highway at around 6:50 p.m. and ordered that it be driven to the parking area. He added that he wanted as many police officers as possible to be present.
After the passengers were released, the bus driver urged Hino to surrender, according to police. In the end, Hino handed the driver the knife and let him get off the bus. Police then stormed the vehicle and arrested him on the spot for violating the law controlling firearms and swords.
According to investigators, Hino was quoted as telling police that he had “grown tired” of his relationships with others.
The express bus, operated by Kawanakajima Bus Co., was traveling from Tokyo’s Shinjuku district to the city of Nagano, where the firm is based.
According to Yukinori Tanaka, a Kawanakajima Bus director, a group firm employee who was on the bus used his cell phone to call his company for help. The firm notified police and also got in touch with the driver.
The director quoted the bus driver as stating that Hino did not seem to be agitated and said he would surrender once police arrived at the scene.
The bus left Shinjuku at 3:50 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Nagano at 7:30 p.m.
A 30-year-old Nagano woman who was on board said Hino suddenly got up and started threatening people with his knife.
“He had been pacing back and forth along the aisle, and he seemed a bit strange from the outset” of the journey, she said.