• Kyodo


Police on Sunday identified Morio Tanimoto as the 61-year-old male patient suspected of starting a fire at a mental clinic in Osaka two days earlier that killed 24 people.

Tanimoto, who remains in a serious condition, was among 27 people taken to hospitals after the fire raced through the clinic in a multiple tenant building in the city Friday.

Tanimoto, known as a skilled construction sheet metal worker, was employed at an Osaka factory until 2010. A daily work log he left behind in his last year on the job paints him as a hardworking individual.

“If he couldn’t finish his work on time, he would come to the factory even on Sundays to work. That was how seriously he took it,” said the company’s president.

According to the president, Tanimoto entered his company in 2002 after working for his father who ran another sheet metal factory. He left suddenly in 2008 but asked to be employed again the following year.

Around a year later, he quit again for unknown reasons and the company lost contact with him.

In April 2011, Tanimoto was arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder after stabbing his son in the head with a kitchen knife.

The president’s wife, who was shocked by the news that Tanimoto was the suspected arsonist, said, “While with us, he was hardworking and did not do any bad things.”

A mental health clinic in Osaka where a fire broke out on Friday in a suspected arson case | KYODO
A mental health clinic in Osaka where a fire broke out on Friday in a suspected arson case | KYODO

The police continued to inspect the scene on the fourth floor of the building in Osaka’s Kita Ward on Sunday and are investigating whether there was any trouble between the suspect and the clinic.

According to investigative sources, Tanimoto was identified from security camera footage taken within the psychosomatic and psychiatric clinic where the fire started around 10:15 a.m. Friday. The police have found his registration card for the clinic.

The victims are all believed to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the police.

On Friday, the clinic was scheduled to hold a group session for patients on temporary sick leave to help them return to work. Some of the victims may have been there to attend the session.

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