SAGAMIHARA – A former employee has reportedly killed at least 19 people and injured 26 others at a care home facility in Sagamihara, Japan on Tuesday morning. The mass killing at the care centre, which caters to the mentally disabled, is one of the rare incidences that have happened in Japan in decades.

The Japanese authorities have identified the killer as 26-year-old Satoshi Uematsu, who had previously worked at the care home facility until February. It was reported that he turned himself in to the Tsukui police after the attack, where he added that people with disabilities “should disappear”. According to a Kanagawa official, Uematsu admitted to the crime whilst carrying various types of knives with bloodstains on them.

It is believed that Uematsu had snuck in by breaking one of the windows on the first-floor of the building. He then tied up one of the caregivers on duty and proceeded to stab his victims. The police had received a called from the Tsukui Yamayuri-en centre at around 2.30am. Uematsu turned himself in about a half hour later.

The police investigating the situation have yet to explain the cause of his actions. It was found however, that Uematsu had been placed under hospital observations earlier this year for nearly two weeks when he first stated that he could kill disabled people.

Uematsu had previously hand delivered a letter to security personnel of Japanese politicians in February, where he threatened to “wipe out a total of 470 disabled individuals” at two facilities. Uematsu added that the seriously handicapped could be euthanized during a night shift when there would be fewer staff on duty. Addressing the issue, Kanagawa prefecture governor Yūji Kuroiwa said, “You could say there were warning signs, but it’s difficult to say if this could have been prevented”.

Japan is seen as one of the safest developed countries in the world, and such incidences have been considered unusual. Prior to this mass killing, the most recent attack in Japan happened in 1995, where members of a cult reportedly released poisonous gas on a Tokyo subway in its attempt to kill government employees. That incident killed 20 people.

– Priscilla Lim, Correspondent (Asia: Far East)

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