• Kyodo


Koji Nagakubo, who was arrested Friday after holding five hostages at knifepoint in an Aichi Prefecture bank, had told an employee of a nearby karaoke establishment that he was about to commit a crime at the branch, police sources said Saturday.

After a near 13-hour standoff, police in full protective gear stormed Toyokawa Shinkin Bank’s branch in Zoshi in the early hours of Friday and apprehended Nagakubo, who apparently took the captives to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration less than a month before the general election.

According to the sources, Nagakubo, 32, dropped by the karaoke box, located some 150 meters from the branch, shortly before the incident began and informed one of the employees about his intention to attack the bank with a knife. Nagakubo then left without paying.

Police handed him over to prosecutors Saturday for brandishing his knife at the branch and seizing the hostages at 2:17 p.m. Thursday. The first captive is believed to have been Yoshie Kinoshita, a customer of the bank who was using an ATM at the time. Nagakubo released Kinoshita, 48, Thursday night in exchange for food.

The police said they also delivered a loud speaker, three boxes of cigarettes and a lighter to the back door of the building, as requested by Nagakubo.

During the tense standoff, Nagakubo kept warning police that he was watching footage from security cameras inside the branch, and repeatedly used another hostage, branch deputy manager Kengo Kato, 41, to telephone the officers outside. Nagakubo never came to the phone in person.

“Since we couldn’t talk to him directly, we didn’t have any chance to persuade him to come out of the branch. That led us to believe that storming the bank was the only option left,” one of the police sources said.

A total of 13 police officers gained entry to the branch via a second floor window while Nagakubo was asleep in a chair, and arrested him at 3:08 a.m. Friday. Nagakubo had tied his arm to one of the four remaining hostages, Moe Takeyama, 19, whose hands were bound.

The other three captives had not been tied up. Police found two female employees of the bank, Junko Yamamoto, 27, and Yoko Horie, 55, sitting on a sofa, while Kato was seated nearby, close to a desk.

The branch, which has 12 employees, is located 2 km southwest of the Toyokawa Municipal Government’s offices.

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