TOKYO – A 17-year-old high school student has been arrested for attempted murder after he allegedly stabbed three people outside the University of Tokyo on Saturday (Jan 15), the first day of nationwide university entrance examinations.
The alleged assailant, who lives and attends school in Nagoya, a city 90 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo, confessed to stabbing them in the back at around 8.30am (7.30am in Singapore).
He was arrested on the spot and a bloodstained kitchen knife was recovered from the crime scene, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said.
The Asahi newspaper, citing investigative sources, quoted the teenager as saying: “My grades are poor and I cannot study well. I thought I would die in the incident.”
The three casualties, all of whom did not know the assailant, included a 72-year-old man who lives in Tokyo, as well as two 18-year-olds – a male and a female – from nearby Chiba prefecture en route to their examination hall.
All three were conscious when they were rushed to hospital. But while the two teenagers suffered minor injuries, media reports said the elderly man underwent urgent surgery after his condition took a sudden turn for the worse.
The alleged culprit also told police that he was responsible for starting a fire at the nearby Todaimae metro station. Nobody was injured.
A firecracker sound was heard just before 8.30am, with a light fire quickly put out, media reports said. A burnt piece of wood was recovered at the station.
The incident occurred as Japan’s two-day unified university entrance examinations began nationwide for about 530,000 students.
The University of Tokyo held the exams as scheduled, with the geography, history and civics papers starting at 9.30am. About 3,700 people were set to sit the examinations at the elite university, which is Japan’s top tertiary institution.
Unified university entrance exams are a major deal in Japan, where failure to enter the school of one’s choice could leave a student as a “ronin”, or “drifter”, as they prepare for a subsequent attempt the following year.
The National Centre for University Entrance Examinations said that the victims in Saturday’s incident would be allowed to take the make-up exam scheduled for the last weekend of January, adding that it was considering measures if they were not able to recover in time.
Violent crime is extremely rare in Japan, though there has been a spate of knife attacks in recent months.
On Nov 24, a 14-year-old junior high school boy in Yatomi city, Aichi Prefecture, died after he was stabbed by his schoolmate. The two students were involved in an altercation, reports said.
And on Halloween last year, a 24-year-old man dressed in Batman’s Joker costume went on a stabbing spree on board a train in Tokyo.
Seventeen people were injured as passengers were sent screaming down the aisles of train carriages and scrambling out of windows to escape.