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Japan: Bloggers on Akihabara knife rampage

A knife attack in Tokyo's Akihabara area, according to news reports carried out by 25-year-old suspect Tomohiro Kato, has taken the lives of at least seven people and left many more injured. The suspect apparently crashed a two-ton rented truck into pedestrians on an intersection close to Akihabara station, and then began attacking onlookers.

The incident happened on the anniversary of a similar crime in Japan's past. Seven years ago on the same day, Mamoru Takuma went on a rampage at Ikeda elementary school in Osaka and killed seven children.

For a list of articles, information, and photos on the stabbing, see Akibablog [ja]. The forums are naturally full of comments [ja], and at ICHINOHE Blog [ja] there is a rundown of Twitter coverage of the incident. Blogger kawataso posted lots of photos [ja] and gave a run-down of their experience of what happened:

今日僕は高崎から戻ってきてそのままアキバに来ていました。まだ11時でホコ天も始まっていなかったのでとりあえずリナカフェに入ってスライドをつくったりいろいろやっていました。

Today I came to Akihabara just after I returned from Takasaki. It was still 11 o'clock and the Hokoten [car-free zone] hadn't opened yet, so I went to Linux Cafe, put together some slides and did various other things.

で、作業に集中していてまわりがざわつくまで気づかなかったのですが、開店中なのになぜか店のシャッターが降りていました。

I was concentrating on my task and didn't notice that the people around me had started making noise, but then for some reason they were closing the store's shutters when the store was still open.

Inside Linacafe with shutters closed
Linux Cafe (in Akihabara) with the shutters closed [シャッターの降りた店内], photo and caption by Kawataso

何があったのかなーと思ってたらなんか通り魔がでたとか、亡くなった人がいるとか、まだ犯人がつかまっていないからシャッターをおろしたんだとかそういう話が店内でささやかれていました。

I thought something must have happened, and there was murmuring within the store that there was a street slasher, that there were people who had died, that that the offender had not yet been caught, and that's why they had closed the shutters.

[…]

しばらくして犯人は捕まったという速報が入ってきて、その時点ではまだ別のメディアではそういう情報がなく錯綜しているようだったのでもうしばらく見守って、いくつかのメディアで犯人逮捕の報が流れたことで、とりあえず店内はすこし落ち着いた空気になりました。

After a short while information arrived that the offender had been caught, and at that point other media there were still no information about this, so it seemed that there were still conflicting reports. So we watched attentively a little longer, and several media announced that the offender had been caught. The atmosphere then quieted down a bit inside the store.

店のシャッターはしまったままですが、とりあえず大丈夫だろうといったん荷物をまとめてカメラを持って店を出ました。リナカフェが面している通りの店は基本的にいつも通り開店していましたが、大通り側にも入り口があるソフマップは念のためシャッターを下ろしているようでした。

The shutters of the store were still closed, but I throught for the time being it's okay, and I put together my stuff, took my camera and left the store. The stores on the street that Linux Cafe faces were basically open as usual, but it seemed that the shutters on Sofmap, which has an entrance on the main street, had been closed just in case.

Photo from Akihabara knife stabbing by Kawataso
Crowds and ambulance, patrol car [人だかりと救急車、パトカーたち], photo and caption by Kawataso

そのまま大通りへ出ると予想通りの人だかりと、予想外の救急車、パトカーたちがいました。

I went out into the main street and, as I had expected, there was a crowd of people, but there was also an ambulance and patrol cars which I hadn't expected.

現場はドンピシャで交差点の真ん中らしく、完全に交差点は封鎖されていました。

The actual spot where the incident happened was apparently the middle of the intersection, and the intersection was completely sealed off.

それから、もちろん警察関係、救急関係者はたくさんいたのですが、それ以上に印象的だったのは路面に散らばった靴やいろいろな持ち物でした。

And then of course, there were many police and first-aid personnel, but what left more of an impression were the shoes and various other personal belongings scattered around the road.

Photo from Akihabara knife stabbing by Kawataso
Many police and ambulance crew [たくさんの警官、救急隊員], photo and caption by Kawataso

Blogger zun00340 was at the scene, and describes what happened:

今日、秋葉原で通り魔事件がありましたね。
本当に痛ましい事件でびっくりしましたが、実は、事件発生時、偶然近くにいました。

Today there was the mass stabbing incident in Akihabara.
It was such a tragic incident so it shocked me, but actually, at the time of the incident, I just happened to be nearby.

[…]

事件発生時、駅に向かって歩いていたところだったので、きちんと目撃はしていませんが、最初は何かがぶつかるような車の大きな音がしました。
交通事故?と振り返ったところ、その直後に、奇声と叫び声が聞こえてきて、
「ヤバそうだから、早く行こう!」
という相方の判断は、正しかったんだなぁと今となっては思います。

At the time that the incident occurred, I was walking toward the station, so I didn't actually see it first-hand, but at the beginning there was a loud sound like a car had hit something.
Traffic accident? — just as I looked over my shoulder, at the very next instant I heard someone scream in a strange voice,
“This looks dangerous, so let's get out of here fast!”
And when I think about it now, my friend's judgment was correct.

現場周辺では、いろいろな情報が錯綜していて、逃げる人、集まってくる野次馬(これが大部分)などでもう大パニック状態でした。
小さなお子さんを連れた人たちは、集まってくる野次馬たちの存在の方が危険だったかもしれません。
もの凄い勢いで、人を押しのけながら現場に向かっていましたから。

There was various conflicting information coming from the area around the actual spot of the incident, people were running to escape (the majority of people), while some curious onlookers were also gathering, it was a situation of huge panic.
The people who had young children with them may actually have been in more danger from the onlookers who gathered [at the spot].
Because they were shoving past people with an incredible momentum to get to the scene.

「サリンが撒かれたらしい」
「通り魔が出た」
「爆弾テロ?」

“Apparently Sarin gas has been unleashed”
“There's a street slasher”
“A terrorist bomb?”

様々なデマや憶測が流れていましたが、状況がしっかりわからない状態は本当に恐ろしかったです。

There were various rumors and speculation circulating about, but the state of affairs was one where there was no reliable information, it was really terrifying.

Photo from Akihabara knife stabbing by Kawataso
Photo by Kawataso

Photo from Akihabara knife stabbing by Kawataso
The truck. Are they taking fingerprints? [トラック。指紋採取中?] Caption and photo by Kawataso

Blogger yonekami, who was at the spot when the stabbings happened, writes:

丁度そのとき俺らはその脇道にある店の中にいました。
店に出た時、かなりの血が広がってました。
警官が取り押さえる際に容疑者から刺された血痕だと思われます。
あと数分早く出ていたら・・なんてことを考えるとものすごく恐ろしいです。
人生何が起こるか本当にわからないですね。

Just at that time we were in a store on that side road.
When we left the store, there was blood all over the place.
When the police captured the suspect, there seemed to be bloodstains from the stabbing.
If we had left just a few minutes earlier… it's extremely terrifying just to think about it.
You never really know what will happen in life, do you.

Photo from Akihabara knife stabbing by Kawataso
Scattered possessions. [散らばった所持品] Caption and photo by Kawataso

Photo from Akihabara knife stabbing by Kawataso
Suspect's rented truck. Photo by Kawataso

Blogger yoro was also nearby, and explains:

事件の起きた時間、わたしとカミサンと三男の3人で秋葉原にいて、ヨドバシか池袋へ車で移動するところでした。そのため、事件の現場は目撃もしていませんし、現場からはちょっと離れた場所にいました。が、以前から良く行く場所であり、ほんのわずかな違いと言うか、偶然で難を逃れたような気もします。

At the time that the incident happened, my wife and I and our third son were in Akihabara, going to either Yodobashi or Ikebukuro by car. Because of that, we didn't actually witness the incident, we were a bit separated from the actual location. But it's a place that I have been going to frequently for some time, and just this very small difference, it feels like I managed to escape hardship just by luck.

Blogger yodogawa, who arrived at the spot shortly after the incident occurred, describes the scene:

例の事件が1235時にあったそうで、
1300時に私は現場にいました。
交通事故かとも思いましたが、それにしては被害者が多いし、
警察も多い、
おまけに数人が心臓マッサージを受けていて、
救急救命士が殺気だっていました。(仕事中にころに似たヤバイ雰囲気は何度か味わっているのでそんな感じでした)
通常の事故(と言うのも悪いですが)と明らかに違い、『とんでもない事が起きた、多分テロか通り魔的な何かだろうな』
と考えて場所を後にして家に帰りました。

The incident apparently happened at 12.35, and I was at the spot at 13.00.
I thought it was a traffic accident, but there were too many victims for that, and there were lots of police,
and besides that many people were receiving cardiac massage,
and the paramedics were frantic. (I've experienced a similar kind of terrible atmosphere at work, and it was that kind of feeling.)
I realized that it was clearly different from an ordinary incident (saying that is also bad, but…), that “something unthinkable has happened, maybe terrorism, or something like a street slasher”, so I left the spot and returned home.

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