What do we know about the massacre that mourns Japan?

This is an extremely rare crime in Japan. Japanese society was particularly shaken after the arrest of a young man suspected of having killed four people. These murders, including those of two policemen, occurred in Nakano, in the Nagano prefecture in the center of the country. But what happened? Who is the suspect? And why such a wave of emotion? 20 minutes takes stock for you.

What happened ?

On Thursday, a man stabbed a woman near a farm in Nakano. “I was working on a farm when just after 4 p.m. a woman came running up from the road saying ‘help me’ and then she fell. Behind her was a man in camouflage with a long knife, who stabbed her in the back,” a witness told NHK. This 72-year-old witness said he then called the emergency services, and neighbors tried to revive the victim by giving him cardiac massage, in vain.

A second woman was injured and succumbed to her injuries. Pursued by the police, called to the scene, the maniac shot and killed two members of the police. He then took refuge in a house with a farm. Sporadic shots were heard overnight before the suspect was arrested around 4:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m. French time). “A police investigation is underway to shed light on this case, including its history and background,” government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said on Friday, adding “we pray for the souls of those who died. and we express our sincere condolences to the bereaved families.”

What is the profile of the suspect?

The suspect is a 31-year-old man. Masanori Aoki is a young farmer from Nagano Prefecture in central Japan. He is the son of a Nakano councilman who lived with his father, mother and aunt, according to local media.

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The motive of the alleged killer remains unknown at this time. “He grew grapes, he was a calm person. I really don’t know why he did such a thing,” a neighbor told Japanese state broadcaster NHK. At a press conference on Friday, the head of the National Public Security Commission, Koichi Tani, said the suspect had obtained permission from the authorities to possess a shotgun and an air pistol.

Why is it so shocking in Japan?

Murders are rare in Japan, where the carrying of firearms is highly regulated. In 2022, only four people had been killed by bullets in this country of 125 million inhabitants. But Japan was rocked last year by the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, killed with a homemade firearm while delivering an election speech in Nara, in the west of the country.

And last month, a young man was arrested after throwing an improvised explosive device in the direction of the Prime Minister in office Fumio Kishida, who was making a trip to a small fishing port in the department of Wakayama (west). Fumio Kishida escaped unscathed. Proof of the emotion engendered by this act, no less than 100 investigators are mobilized in this case.

The main suspect, however, does not dispute the facts according to the police chief of the Nagano department. “It was an act of extreme hatred that shocked not only the inhabitants of the department but the whole of Japanese society,” said Iwao Koyama. The inhabitants of the surroundings, a usually very peaceful area with rice fields and agricultural greenhouses, had been called by the local authorities to confine themselves.

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