In the early hours of the new year, a man crashed his auto into pedestrians in Shibuya Ward in Tokyo, injuring nine people in what he claimed to be a terrorist attack, local media reported Tuesday.
A policeman (R) stands next to a roped-off crime scene after a man drove into the crowd on New Year's Eve on Takeshita Street in Tokyo's fashion district of Harajuku.
A 21-year-old suspect, named as Kazuhiro Kusakabe, was arrested and being questioned, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said.
Kusakabe reportedly told the police that he had planned his attack on the Meiji Shrine area, but had been deterred by massive road blocks in the area.
Kyodo reported that investigative sources said the man claimed he had intentionally committed an act of terrorism "in retaliation for an execution" and "would not make any excuse" for what he did.
He drove the wrong way on the one-way street and hit eight men aged between 19 and 51 while traveling around 140 meters, the police said. He came to a stop when he crashed the rented vehicle into a building.
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The vehicle was stopped by police, and the man driving the auto was detained after being "overwhelmed" by the police. During the incident, Eurocontrol said that the airport would be closed to takeoffs and landings until 8 pm.
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According to national broadcaster, NHK, the suspect fled from the scene and assaulted a passerby before he was captured minutes later.
Police said a large tank filled with kerosene was found in the vehicle.
Japan executed 15 prisoners past year. In early July 2018, Japan executed 13 members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect that was responsible for the sarin gas attack in a Tokyo subway in 1995.
Unlike in other major cities, New Year's Eve in Tokyo is a relatively muted affair.
Another man was slightly injured after Kusakabe allegedly struck him after getting out of the vehicle, the police said.
The people injured ranged in age from teenagers to people in their 50s, including a male university student who remains in critical condition. "In addition, investigators have preliminary information about a mental illness of the driver", the statement said.