OSAKA – A police officer was stabbed multiple times and his pistol was stolen in the northern Osaka Prefecture city of Suita, authorities said Sunday.
Officer Suzunosuke Kose, 26, was found at a police box with a knife embedded in the left side of his chest and other stab wounds. Emergency services were notified of the incident at around 5:40 a.m., according to police.
Kose was apparently attacked after two fellow officers on duty left the police box to respond to an emergency call reporting a home break-in. The police believe that it was a false report.
The suspect, who is facing potential robbery and attempted murder charges, is thought to be in his 30s and is about 170-180 centimeters tall.
Surveillance camera footage showed a man loitering around the police box, which is located in front of Hankyu Railway’s Senriyama Station, about an hour before the incident.
The gun was loaded with five bullets when it was stolen.
Schools in the northern Osaka area have been instructed to cancel events and club activities, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said on Twitter.
The incident happened at a time when the prefectural police have been stepping up security in the nearby city of Osaka where a meeting of leaders from the Group of 20 major economies will be held late this month.
The stabbing shocked local residents and led some nearby universities to cancel open campus events.
“The police officers here are all nice. I hope the suspect will be caught before the gun is used,” a 49-year-old woman said.
A male university student saw the injured officer in the police box while he was out walking at around 6 a.m. “He looked like he was writhing in pain,” the 22-year-old said.
A 31-year-old mother of two said, “Listening to the constant noise of police sirens this morning was a chilling experience,” adding, “It’s terrifying to think that someone may be wandering around with a gun.”
The opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan canceled leader Yukio Edano’s planned stump speech in the city of Osaka following reports about the stabbing.
Police departments in Japan have been introducing new pistol holsters designed to prevent officers from being disarmed following a series of serious incidents in which there was a struggle for a firearm.
Kose was using an older-style holster, according to the police.
In January, a university student armed with a knife and hammer slightly injured an officer at a police station in the city of Toyama. The student, who was arrested on the spot, told investigators he tried to steal a gun so he could use it to commit suicide.
Also in Toyama in June last year, a former member of the Self-Defense Forces stabbed an officer to death at a police box, stole his handgun and fatally shot a security guard at a nearby school.