Hostage-Taker Arrested in Japan After 11-hour Standoff, Hostage Found Dead

Hostage-Taker Arrested in Japan After 11-hour Standoff, Hostage Found Dead
People cross the street at a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept. 8, 2016. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)
Aldgra Fredly

A 66-year-old man in Japan has been arrested on Friday after shooting a medical worker and taking a doctor hostage in an 11-hour standoff, the police said.

The suspect, who was identified as Hiroshi Watanabe, was arrested at his residence in Fujimino, Saitama Prefecture, on Friday morning.

Watanabe allegedly attacked three medical staff who had been to his house at around 9 p.m. on Thursday.

Police said that the victims were in charge of the in-home medical care of the suspect’s mother and came for a visit to express condolences following the death of the mother, local media Kyodo News reported.

The suspect allegedly took the 44-year-old doctor, Junichi Suzuki, hostage at his home with a gun. Suzuki was in cardiorespiratory arrest–a term used in Japan before death is officially confirmed–as police couldn’t confirm his condition during the 11-hour standoff.

Suzuki was later confirmed to have died as a result of being shot. The standoff ended only after police stormed into the suspect’s home and apprehended him.

Watanabe also shot the second victim, a 41-year-old physiotherapist, and sprayed the third victim with tear gas. Both of them were taken to the hospital, but the second victim remained unconscious.

Local emergency authorities were notified of the incident at around 9.15 p.m. after receiving a report from a resident in the area who claimed to have heard two people being shot.

Around 110 residents were evacuated, and all nearby elementary and junior high schools were closed for the whole day as a result of the standoff, which lasted until Friday morning.

Throughout the standoff, police talked with Watanabe by a phone call, during which he made no specific demands. According to police, the suspect professed a desire to help Suzuki and pleaded for his rescue.

Some residents in the neighborhood claimed that Watanabe has been living with his bedridden mother and has rarely socialized with neighbors as he had to take care of his mother.

“I got the impression that he was really devoted to caring for his mother,” one resident said.

Gun-related crime is rare in Japan due to the country’s strict gun control laws, with only six gun-related deaths reported in 2014. The revision of the law, the first since 1995, imposed heavier punishments for gun crimes committed by members of organized crime gangs.

Reuters contributed to this report.