National

Mourners continue to offer prayers and flowers one week after Kawasaki mass stabbing

Kyodo

A week after a mass stabbing in Kawasaki, mourners continued to offer prayers and flowers on Tuesday at the scene where a schoolgirl and 39-year-old father were killed.

In the attack on the morning of May 28, Hanako Kuribayashi, an 11-year-old Caritas Elementary School student, and Satoshi Oyama, a Foreign Ministry official and father of another girl who attends the school, were stabbed and killed. Eighteen others, mostly students awaiting school buses, were also injured.

“Even after a week, my painful feelings remain the same,” said local resident Yukiko Iwasaki, 48, after offering prayers at the site.

She said the incident has impacted the area, with children no longer waiting for their school buses in the morning as they did before the attack.

Caritas Elementary School, closed in the wake of the stabbing, is scheduled to resume classes on Wednesday. It said it has decided not to use the bus stop near the site of the attack and set up a stop at a separate location.

Pupils of a kindergarten run by the same operator were seen waiting for school buses in front of Noborito Station, near the stabbing site, with some not wearing school uniforms.

“I hope pupils and teachers at the school will be able to return to their normal lives,” said Takashi Toda, a 23-year-old university student who graduated from the elementary school.

Sadayoshi Otsu, an 81-year-old professor emeritus at Kobe University who heads a civic group that works to build small hydroelectric projects in Myanmar, mourned the loss of Oyama, a Myanmar specialist who he became acquainted with in 2012.

“He was kind but was also mentally strong,” Otsu said. “He was working for Myanmar, and I regret his death.”

In the attack at around 7:40 a.m. on May 28, Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, allegedly stabbed and slashed a group of students and parents with knives he wielded in each hand. Iwasaki died in an apparent suicide shortly after the attack.

Police believe the attack was premeditated, as Iwasaki purchased some of the knives months in advance. A man believed to be Iwasaki was seen visiting the area four days before the attack. The suspect’s motive remains unknown.

Iwasaki had led a reclusive life in the years before the attack and he did not own a smartphone or computer, according to the police.

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