TOKYO – Japanese authorities searched on Thursday the house of the man who stabbed a group of schoolgirls a day earlier – killing an 11-year-old girl and a man aged 39 – in order to investigate the motive behind the attack.
The alleged perpetrator, identified as 51-year-old Ryuichi Iwasaki, attacked the girls with a knife in each hand when they were waiting to board a school bus. He later died from self-inflicted wounds.
Police said on Wednesday that the attack, which injured 17 other people – most of them minors –, lasted less than 20 seconds.
Authorities found two other knives in a backpack found near the scene of the crime which might belong to the attacker. According to his relatives, the weapons did not come from his house, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Iwasaki, a resident of the same area where the attack took place, was living with his uncle and aunt – who are both in their 80s –, but hardly had any contact with them.
His family members told the police that Iwasaki had been unemployed and reclusive for a long time.
Police are still struggling to clarify the motives which led to Iwasaki’s violent spree. He died on Tuesday at a hospital he was admitted to under police custody after he stabbed himself in the neck.
On Wednesday, people gathered at a place near the scene of the attack to offer flowers and prayers for the victims, most of whom were aged between 6-12 and attended the private Catholic Caritas elementary school, including the 11-year-old girl who was killed, Hanako Kuribayashi.
The other mortal victim was foreign affairs ministry official Satoshi Oyama, the father of one of the girls. His daughter remained unharmed.
Oyama specialized in the Burmese language and had often worked as an interpreter for former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
“When I think of him at work, full of energy, I just can’t believe this has happened to him. I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences,” Kishida told NHK.
A doctor at one of the hospitals where five of the injured girls are being treated told EFE that they were recovering but could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The physician said they had treated their physical injuries and were now focusing on the victims’ psychological care.