Man who left knives in Japanese prince's school desk admits he wanted to stab 12-year-old

Kaoru Hasegawa, 56, confessed that he intended to stab Prince Hisahito, but ended up just leaving the knives to let the prince know he had been there. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (WASHINGTON POST) - A man arrested for leaving two knives on the school desk of a young Japanese prince has admitted to police that he intended to stab the 12-year-old because he disagrees with the imperial system, Japanese media reported.

Kaoru Hasegawa, 56, was arrested for trespassing last month after two knives were found on the desk of Prince Hisahito, who one day stands to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The incident occurred only days before the prince's uncle Naruhito became Japan's new emperor.

The knives, blades painted pink, were bound to a two-foot-long bar that straddled the school desk of the prince and a neighbouring desk, local news media reported, heightening security fears and underlining the vulnerability of a royal family desperately short of male heirs.

Police say Hasegawa confessed to leaving the knives because he "was not satisfied with the imperial system and the succession", arguing that under that system, "Japan won't get better", local media reported.

Hasegawa confessed that he intended to stab Prince Hisahito, news outlets reported, but ended up just leaving the knives to let the prince know he had been there.

Why the knives were painted pink and bound to a bar was not explained.

Surveillance video from the school showed a man in a blue worker's uniform, wearing a helmet and a pair of gloves, entering the school shortly before the knives were found. Local media said he had posed as a plumber.

Prince Hisahito and his classmates were reportedly out at a physical education class when the man entered the school. The intruder was able to identify where the prince sits because children have their names on their desks.

After the abdication of 85-year-old Emperor Akihito at the end of April, Prince Hisahito now stands second in line to the throne, behind his father, Crown Prince Fumihito, 53, who is the younger brother of the 59-year-old Emperor Naruhito.

Women are not allowed to inherit the throne, making Prince Hisahito the imperial family's only young heir.

Before Prince Hisahito was born, the government had considered changing the law to allow women to inherit the throne, but it shelved the plan after his birth.

It says it will reopen the debate later this year.

In the wake of the incident, the Education Ministry has instructed schools across the country to tighten security, Kyodo News reported, including by adding multiple checkpoints at school gates and other entrances to look for suspicious individuals.

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