• Kyodo


A man who was arrested after injuring 17 people in a knife and arson attack aboard a train on Halloween told police he’d targeted Tokyo in hope of killing as many people as possible, investigative sources said Tuesday.

“I thought I could kill a lot of people in Tokyo,” said Kyota Hattori, according to investigators. The 24-year-old wore a costume reminiscent of Batman villain the Joker during the attack.

Videos and photos of the incident, which took place on a Keio Line train on Sunday night, were posted on social media by eyewitnesses and showed the suspect at the scene wearing a bright green shirt, dark tie and purple suit.

Tokyo police referred Hattori to prosecutors Tuesday on suspicion of attempted murder.

Hattori came to Tokyo in late September from his native city of Fukuoka a few months after quitting a company where he’d worked for three years. After leaving the city in southwestern Japan, he’d stayed at hotels in Kobe and Nagoya while accumulating debts, according to the sources.

Of the 17 injured people, a 72-year-old man remains in critical condition after allegedly being stabbed in the chest by Hattori while the limited express train was still in motion at around 8 p.m. Sunday.

The suspect also allegedly started a fire on the train using lighter fluid. Video recorded by people on the train showed passengers running to escape a large blaze in one of the carriages.

The other 16 victims who were from their teens to their 60s sustained minor injuries including smoke inhalation.

Hattori was quoted by investigators as saying that he’d chosen Halloween as the trains would be busy with passengers.

About two hours before the incident, he visited Tokyo’s Shibuya district, a hot spot where throngs of costumed partygoers celebrate the festival, according to the police.

Hattori bought the Joker costume, lighter fluid and bug spray after arriving in Tokyo, according to the sources. Police found a knife, several plastic bottles that had possibly contained lighter fluid and an aerosol can in a train car.

The police have said he adores the Joker, a long-running character in the Batman franchise.

He told investigators he’d prepared the fluid to burn on the train, indicating the premeditated nature of the attack — which was inspired by another knife attack in August, in which a man splashed cooking oil aboard an Odakyu Electric Railway commuter train that failed to ignite.

Hattori also said he “wanted to kill people and be given the death penalty” and that he had been “thinking from around June of being sentenced to death.” He was quoted as saying he had failed professionally and had troubled relationships with his friends.

The incident, which caused panic and sent passengers scrambling through windows of the train when its doors were not immediately opened, took place on a 10-car service headed to Shinjuku, a busy station in central Tokyo, from Hachioji in the west of the capital.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.