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Kato 'claims job despair made him kill'

Tomohiro Kato, who was arrested after allegedly killing seven people and injuring 10 others in a murderous rampage in the Akihabara district of Tokyo on Sunday, has told police that he had been worried about losing his job before his killing spree, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The Metropolitan Police Department believes feelings of desperation partially motivated Kato to carry out the attacks.

The MPD sent Kato to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on Tuesday on suspicion of murder.

Three days before the attacks, Kato disappeared from the Higashi-Fuji Plant of Kanto Auto Works Ltd. in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, where he was working temporarily. He reportedly left abruptly after he was unable to find his work clothes in a dressing room.

Kato, 25, was quoted by the police as saying, "I made up my mind to carry out the stabbings two to three days ago."

According to a 34-year-old colleague of Kato, he arrived at the factory at about 6 a.m. Thursday and could not find his work clothes. He then angrily destroyed the work clothes of another worker and left, the colleague said. Kato told his colleagues that he was worried that he would lose his job. The colleague said, "He might have mistakenly thought that he had been fired [because his work clothes were missing]."

In addition to the dagger used in the attacks, the MPD confiscated three knives and an extendable police baton from Kato. He allegedly had prepared a total of five knives. Kato was quoted by the police as saying, "I bought [the knives] at a shop in Fukui Prefecture."

According to an MPD officer, Kato sobbed when investigators questioned him about his family, but calmly answered other questions.

Kato visited Akihabara on Saturday to sell video game software to cover some of the fees for the rental truck he used in the attack.

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Bad marks prompted change

Kato also said he hated his life, according to the MPD. In spring 1998, after achieving high marks in middle school, Kato entered one of the most academically prestigious high schools in Aomori Prefecture.

However, he failed to get good marks in his first exams. A former friend of Kato said, "He told me that he was so shocked that he began to hate studying."

After that, his interest turned to motor sports, and he decided to get an auto mechanic's license. While his classmates went on to four-year university courses, he entered a junior college in Gifu Prefecture to get an auto mechanic's license.

According to the junior college, when Kato was a second-year student, he told counselors that he wanted to enter Hirosaki University in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, after graduation to become a middle school teacher. At that time, Hirosaki University's transfer student examination had already been held. After that, he frequently skipped classes and failed to obtain an auto mechanic's license.

After graduation, he switched jobs often, working at a security company in Sendai and for transport companies in Aomori and Ibaraki prefectures. Around spring 2004, he began sending e-mails to a former friend with messages such as, "I have no money," and "I want to die."

He registered at temporary staffing agency Nikken Sogyo Co. in November, and was sent to Kanto Auto Works. Around that time, Kato stopped answering calls from his friend. "I told other friends that I hoped he wouldn't commit suicide, then I heard he committed the crime Sunday," the former friend said.

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Claims of mental illness

According to the MPD, Kato claims he suffers from mental illness. Prosecutors will discuss whether to ask the Tokyo District Court to allow them to keep Kato in custody to examine his psychiatric condition.

Kato admitted that he intended to kill people, but also said he suffered from mental illness, the MPD said. He reportedly claimed he began suffering from mental disorder after his parents told him that he was unwanted.

(Jun. 11, 2008)
AP News
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