Tokyo Suspect Had Several Knives

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(TOKYO) — The suspect in a deadly stabbing rampage had an arsenal of knives with him during the attack, police said Wednesday, as an electronics maker canceled a launch event promoting a game that features a character armed with a huge dagger.

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Tomohiro Kato, a 25-year-old factory worker who was spattered with blood when police arrested him after Sunday's assault, was carrying two knives and had two more stashed in his knapsack in a nearby truck, a police official said. Kato apparently dropped another knife during the attack, said the official, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol,

The official said it appears Kato only used one knife to stab more than a dozen people in Tokyo's trendy Akihabara electronics district, the center of Japan's comic book and anime culture.

Police conducted a search of Kato's apartment Tuesday and confiscated empty packages that had contained knives and a club. They also found catalogues and receipts for the weapons.

No charges have been filed against Kato. Under Japanese law, prosecutors have 20 days after receiving suspects to either file charges or release them.

The assault began when a driver crashed a rental truck into a group of pedestrians, killing three of them. He then jumped out of the truck and slashed his way through the crowd, fatally stabbing four people. Another 10 were injured.

The attack horrified Japan, where news reports and talk shows have focused on what may have prompted the assault, Kato's troubled personality and a string of messages he sent to an Internet bulletin board warning he was planning to kill.

Amid rising concerns about street violence, gamemaker Konami canceled three launch events scheduled in Tokyo — including one in Akihabara — on Thursday for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, an action game in which a grizzled commando shoots and stabs his way through enemy lines.

Konami canceled the events with the "safety of participants in mind," though similar events in the U.S. were to proceed as planned, a spokesman said on condition of anonymity, citing company rules. The game is stamped with a "mature" rating due to graphic blood and violence.

Tokyo, with a population of 12.7 million, is considered relatively safe, with guns tightly restricted and shootings rare.

Police statistics show the number of attacks involving knives on Japan's streets rising and falling over the years.

The National Police Agency said there were 67 multiple street stabbings over the past decade, with the highest number — 10 — in 1998. There were four attacks in 2006, but that jumped to eight last year.

Media reports of Kato painted a picture of an increasingly desperate young man who had recently quit his job in a fit of rage. Japanese media said Kato's Internet postings showed a man angry with society and vowing to get revenge by unleashing his fury on the streets of Akihabara.

National broadcaster NHK has also shown surveillance footage of Kato purchasing hunting knives at an outdoor and camping shop two days before the attack. Kato is seen on the tape laughing with the salesman and at times making stabbing motions with his hands.

A police spokesman said Wednesday that Kato had been cooperative during questioning but was clearly a very troubled person.

"Whenever he talked about his upbringing, he started crying," the spokesman said.

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