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Japan’s slasher had posted his deadly intentions

Japan struggled to make sense on Monday of a stabbing rampage that killed seven people at the center of Tokyo's comic book and “anime” youth culture.
By HT Correspondent | AP, Tokyo
UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2008 11:38 PM IST

Japan struggled to make sense on Monday of a stabbing rampage that killed seven people at the center of Tokyo's comic book and “anime” youth culture, as local reports uncovered messages showing the troubled attacker detailed his plan in advance on the Internet.

Mourners, some weeping, piled “manga” comics, flowers and other items in honor of the dead at the intersection in the Akihabara district where a man on Sunday rammed pedestrians with a rental truck, then jumped out swinging a dagger, leaving 17 victims bleeding in the street.

Police arrested blood-splattered 25-year-old Tomohiro Kato, a temporary worker at a factory outside Tokyo, and media reports and Internet sites buzzed on Monday with a series of messages he allegedly posted to an electronic bulletin board via cell phone in the hours before the slaughter.

Authorities confirmed that Kato told them he had posted messages and that they were verifying their authenticity, but did not release details. Media reports and Internet accounts by people claiming to have viewed the postings, however, said he chronicled his steps up to just minutes before the attack.

For many Japanese who grew up convinced their nation was safe, the first reaction was shock.

“It's unbelievable that things like this are happening in our country,” 19-year-old Tsutsumo Hirano, who attended high school with one of the victims, said as he paid his respects at the memorial at the attack site.

The government Monday vowed to impose greater controls on access and possession of large knives.

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