Police have searched the home of a man accused of carrying out Japan’s worst mass killing in decades, at a care home for people with mental disabilities.
Satoshi Uematsu, a former employee of the facility in Sagamihara west of Tokyo, stabbed 19 people to death on Tuesday, say police.
He had previously sent letters to politicians threatening to kill hundreds of disabled people.
The 26-year-old turned himself into police after the attack.
He was quoted by police as saying he had attacked those who were unable to communicate their feelings, broadcaster NHK reported.
How did the attack unfold?
Who is Satoshi Uematsu?
‘It would be better if the disabled disappear’
On Wednesday, Mr Uematsu was transferred from a local police station, where he had been held since he turned himself in, to the prosecutor’s office in Yokohama.
He is believed to have broken into the Tsukui Yamayuri-en facility early on Tuesday morning.
Authorities said the 19 victims of the attack ranged in age from 19 to 70, and were all residents. Dozens of others were injured.
Most of the victims were stabbed around their necks, some with wounds as deep as 10cm, according to Japanese media.
Mr Uematsu had reportedly said to investigators that it “would be better if the disabled disappeared”, adding that he had “no remorse” about the killing.
In the letter he sent to politicians in February, he threatened to kill hundreds of disabled people during a night shift, according to reports from Kyodo news agency. At that time Mr Uematsu had been kept in hospital for almost two weeks before being released.
Kanagawa prefecture governor Yuki Kuroiwa said there had been “warning signs” but that it was difficult to say if the attack could have been prevented.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after the incident: “The lives of many innocent people were taken away and I am greatly shocked. We will make every effort to discover the facts and prevent a reoccurrence.”
Mass killings are extremely rare in Japan, in part because strict gun control laws mean almost no-one has access to a firearm.
- 8 June 2008 – a man drove a truck into a packed shopping district at Akihabara in Tokyo, before climbing out and randomly stabbing people. Seven people died.
- 8 June 2001 – man with a history of mental illness stabbed eight children to death at an Osaka primary school in 2001.
- 20 March 1995 – 13 people die and thousands are made ill when members of a doomsday cult release sarin gas in the Tokyo subway.