• Kyodo


A man arrested for deliberately plowing a rented car into a New Year’s crowd on a popular Tokyo street has said he kept his foot on the gas pedal during the attack, police officers said Thursday.

As no tire marks have been found on Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori, the Metropolitan Police Department believes the 21-year-old man, identified as Kazuhiro Kusakabe, intended to commit murder.

After his arrest in the early hours of Tuesday, Kusakabe confessed to wanting to kill pedestrians.

Kusakabe was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after knocking down eight men aged between 19 and 51 from behind as he drove the wrong way for about 140 meters on the narrow one-way street, finally crashing the minicar into a building.

The street, known as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion, was closed to vehicles at the time of the attack as it was expected to be crowded with people, including those making New Year’s wishes at the nearby Meiji Shrine.

A 19-year-old university student remains unconscious. The rest of the eight men suffered serious or minor injuries.

In addition, Kusakabe, whose home address and occupation remain unknown, wounded a 19-year-old male witness after fleeing on foot.

The police have said they found a 20-liter tank of kerosene and a spray extraction machine in the car, adding Kusakabe has told them he arrived in Tokyo from Osaka on New Year’s Eve planning to enter the famous shrine but was unable to do so because traffic was being redirected.

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