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05 March 2024

Five of family stabbed to death in Japan



A man suspected of stabbing five people dead at a family home in rural Japan was being quizzed by police Monday, with reports saying he is a ‘hikikomori’, or social misfit, who lived nearby.

Media descended on the usually quiet island of Awajishima, with helicopters hovering over the farmstead where the five were slain sometime before 7.00 am (2200 GMT Sunday).

Police found the bloodied bodies of a man and a woman, both aged around 80, in the main house on the site.

Two unconscious women, aged around 60 and 80, were discovered in another building, while a badly wounded man in his 60s was found outside.

All three were rushed to hospital and were later confirmed dead, police said.

The alarm was raised by a 32-year-old woman who rang police to say her parents had been stabbed.

Detectives arrested unemployed Tatsuhiko Hirano, 40, a police spokesman told AFP.

Local media said Hirano's clothes were spattered with blood and that he had admitted to the multiple killing.

A Twitter account that appeared to be run by the suspect had been used over the past month.

Tweets included one with the address of the homicides and a map of the scene. Other tweets appeared to be about telepathy and stalking.

Hirano lives in the area with his father and grandmother, Jiji Press reported.

Locals told the agency he rarely leaves his home and has largely been isolated from society since his school days.

The phenomenon of so-called ‘hikikomori’ - literally ‘the withdrawn’ - rears its head fairly frequently in Japan.

Often it applies to maladjusted people in their late teens or early 20s who shut themselves away for years at a time in their parents' homes, many living in darkened bedrooms with little or no human contact.

While many eventually emerge, others continue well into adulthood, protected from the pressures of life by their ageing parents.