Everything we know so far about the Tokyo ‘Joker’ knife attack

Suspect reportedly told police he wanted to murder to get ‘death penalty’

Emergency services arrive on the scene of the knife attack
Emergency services arrive on the scene of the knife attack
(Image credit: Kazuhrio Nogi/AFP via Getty Images)

A man accused of injuring 17 passengers in a Tokyo train attack on Halloween while dressed as the Joker is said to have told investigators that he “adores” the Batman villain and “wanted to kill people and be given the death sentence”.

Kyota Hattori, 24, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder after allegedly attacking passengers with a knife and starting a fire “using lighter fluid”, said Nikkei Asia. According to the Tokyo-based English-language newspaper, police said the suspect claimed to have been “thinking from around June of being sentenced to death”.

Photos and videos on social media show a bespectacled man dressed in a purple suit and green shirt like that worn by the Joker sitting smoking with his legs crossed after the attack as he apparently waits for police to arrive.

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The Tokyo Fire Department said 17 passengers had been hurt, with three suffering serious injuries. A man in his 70s was reported to be in critical condition after being stabbed in the chest on the Keio Line train at around 8pm local time. Other passengers were treated for smoke inhalation.

Video footage of the attack “showed a steady stream of people running away from a train car”, Reuters said. Another clip “showed passengers rushing to squeeze out of the train’s windows and onto the platform where the train had made an emergency stop”.

Hattori allegedly attacked passengers with a “long knife” and then “spread fluid around” and “ignited it”, said Sky News. Footage posted on social media also showed flames “gushing from one of the carriages and some seats burned”, the broadcaster added.

The attack took place on an express line train from Hachioji, in the west of the capital, to Shinjuku station, “the world’s busiest”, last night “as people headed into the Japanese capital for Halloween parties”, Sky News said.

Nikkei Asia reported that Hattori was believed to have visited Tokyo's Shibuya district, “a hot spot for costumed partygoers to celebrate Halloween”, about two hours before the attack.

Hattori allegedly “told police he chose a limited express train bound for the city centre that makes few stops because it is generally crowded with passengers,” the paper continued. He also reportedly “expressed regret at failing to kill anyone in the attack”, explaining that “he had failed in work and had troubles in relationships with his friend”.

A witness told government-owned broadcaster NHK that passengers first thought the attack was “something like a Halloween event”.

Another witness said: “He held a knife and started spreading liquid. He was committing this act without showing any emotion, just mechanically. I think that brought fear to everyone.”

The attack is the second involving a knife on a Tokyo train in less than three months, after ten people were injured by a knife-wielding man on another Tokyo commuter train in August.

In 2019, a man attacked a group of schoolchildren waiting for a bus in Kawasaki, killing two and injuring at least 18 others.

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