Japan stabbing spree: Some of the country's worst mass killings

Emergency members at the Tsukui Yamayuri Garden, a residential care facility for disabled people in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, on July 26, 2016.
Emergency members at the Tsukui Yamayuri Garden, a residential care facility for disabled people in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, on July 26, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (AFP) - At least 19 people died Tuesday (July 26) when a knife-wielding man went on the rampage at a Japanese care centre for the mentally disabled, the country's worst mass killing in decades.

Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year-old former employee at the facility, turned himself in to police over the early morning attack, reportedly saying: "The disabled should all disappear."

Japan has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the developed world and extremely strict gun laws. When mass killings have occurred, they typically involve knives.

Following are some of the worst mass killings in Japan:

May 1938, rural Okayama

A 21-year-old man, Mutsuo Toi, goes on a killing spree, using a shotgun, Japanese sword, and an axe.

He kills 30 people, including his grandmother, before killing himself.

March 1995, Tokyo metro

Members of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo release sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system, killing 13 people and sickening thousands of commuters in Japan's most notorious attack.

September 1999, Shimonoseki Station

A 35-year-old man, Yasuaki Uwabe, drives a car into the main train station in the southwestern city of Shimonoseki and then randomly stabs passers-by, killing five people and wounding 10.

June 2001, Osaka school

A mentally disturbed man, Mamoru Takuma, armed with a kitchen knife goes on a stabbing spree at Ikeda Elementary School in the posh suburbs of Osaka, killing eight youngsters.

June 2008, Tokyo shoppers

On the anniversary of the Osaka school attack, disgruntled auto worker Tomohiro Kato ploughs a truck into a crowd of shoppers in Tokyo's bustling Akihabara district before jumping out and stabbing people, leaving seven dead and 10 wounded.

After that rampage, Japan banned possession of double-edged knives with blades longer than 5.5cm.

October 2008, Osaka arson

An arsonist, Kazuhiro Ogawa, 46, kills 16 people in a fire at an all-night video shop which offered adult films in small rooms in Osaka.

March 2015, Awaji Island

Five people are stabbed to death at a family home in rural Japan by "social misfit" Tatsuhiko Hirano, 40, who lived nearby.

June 2016, northern Japan

A 33-year-old man, Nobuyuki Matsuhashi, who had been treated for mental illness, stabs a woman to death and wounds three others in an attack at a shopping mall on Hokkaido.

ATTACKS ON THE VULNERABLE

In February 2016, a former nursing home worker is arrested for allegedly throwing up to three elderly residents to their deaths from balconies.

There have also been cases of family members killing ailing and ageing spouses or parents suffering from dementia in Japan's rapidly ageing society.