TOKYO — A Japanese man carrying two knives waded into a crowd of schoolgirls at a bus stop outside Tokyo on Tuesday and began stabbing them one by one, injuring more than a dozen and killing an adult and a 12-year-old.
The middle aged man then apparently committed suicide by stabbing himself in the neck, said the state broadcaster NHK, citing police.
The children, thought to be between the ages of 6 and 12, were students at a private Catholic school and were boarding their school bus when the man attacked around 7:45 a.m. in Kawasaki city.
Dai Nagase, an official at the Kawasaki city fire department, said 19 people had been injured at the scene, three of whom were not breathing. One hospital said one man in his 50s, probably the attacker, had died and four people had been seriously injured, including three girls and one woman in her 40s, while another hospital said an adult man in his 30s had also been confirmed dead.
NHK quoted a bus driver as saying he saw the man carrying two knives approach the children and start stabbing them one by one. The knives were found nearby amid pools of blood at the scene, the Kyodo News agency reported.
“I heard a man and a woman screaming,” a 50-year-old woman who lives in the neighborhood told Kyodo. “I rushed out of my house and saw many ambulances.”
The attack happened as President Trump was visiting Japan on a four-day state visit.
“On behalf of the first lady and myself, I want to take a moment to send our prayers and sympathy to the victims of the stabbing attack this morning in Tokyo,” Trump said in a speech on board a Japanese aircraft carrier. “All Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families.”
Hiroaki Takamatsu, the director general of the Caritas Elementary School in Kawasaki, told reporters he was very saddened to hear of the incident and “lost for words for the parents,” adding the school would meet them this evening.
Violent crime is rare in Japan and gun ownership laws are strict, but there are occasional high-profile attacks, often using knives or vehicles as weapons.
Earlier this month, a man left two knives on the school desk of a young Japanese prince. Police said the man confessed he had intended to stab 12-year-old Prince Hisahito, who one day stands to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne, because he disagreed with the imperial system.
Another man drove a minivan into a group of people enjoying New Year’s celebrations in Tokyo just after midnight on Jan. 1, injuring eight people, in what he said was a protest at the death penalty.
In 2016, a man who claimed he wanted to kill disabled people carried out a knife attack on a care facility where he had worked, killing 19 and wounding 26 more.
In 2010, 13 people were injured when a man who said he wanted to end his life went on a stabbing rampage on a school bus and a commuter bus in a Tokyo suburb.
Two years earlier, a 28-year-old man drove a truck into a crowded pedestrian crossing in Tokyo, killing three people, and then descended from the vehicle to fatally stab four more.
Akiko Kashiwagi contributed to this report.