3 attacked at Univ. of Tokyo amid unified entrance exams, man held

Two high school students taking Japan’s unified university entrance exams and another person were attacked with a knife on Saturday at the University of Tokyo and a 17-year-old man has been arrested, the operator of the nationwide tests and police said.

A 72-year-old man from Tokyo was seriously injured after he and the two other victims — a male and a female student both aged 18 — were slashed in the back around 8:30 a.m. outside one of the gates to the university’s main campus in the capital’s Bunkyo Ward.

Yellow police tape is seen at an entrance at the University of Tokyo after a stabbing incident on Jan. 15, 2022. (Kyodo)

The two high school students, both from Chiba Prefecture, did not sustain life-threatening injuries, the police said, adding the suspect was not acquainted with the three.

The suspect, a student at a private high school residing in Nagoya in central Japan who was not taking the exams, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. He has admitted to the charge.

“I was not doing well in my studies so I wanted to cause an incident and die,” he was quoted by police as saying.

The suspect also said he had brought a knife from his home. A bloodstained knife was found on the scene.

The incident occurred as Japan’s two-day unified university entrance exams began nationwide. Despite the incident, the University of Tokyo, which was one of over 600 exam venues, conducted the first day of the exams as scheduled.

The 72-year-old man alerted police to the attack after rushing to a nearby police box, the police said.

The suspect was also quoted by police as saying he set a fire at a station near the campus before the incident.

The Tokyo Fire Department said it was alerted to a fire within the premises of Todaimae Station on the Namboku Line operated by Tokyo Metro Co. at around 8:30 a.m. and that it was extinguished around an hour later.

The incident appeared to unsettle some test-takers at the venue, to which police and firefighting vehicles were mobilized. The incident occurred outside the gate of the Yayoi section of the main campus of the university, which is considered one of the most prestigious in Japan.

An 18-year-old test-taker said he learned about the incident via Twitter. “It has become a big incident and it’s scary. I want to do my best in the test and not be affected,” he added.

The exams, conducted by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations amid anti-COVID measures, drew a total of 530,367 applicants and are taking place at 677 venues.

In Japan, standardized university entrance exams are held annually in two stages, with the first standardized for all universities and the second involving university-specific exams.

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