Knife-wielding man attacks schoolgirls in Japan, kills 2

Most of the victims were elementary school girls who were lined up at a bus stop near Noborito Park in Kawasaki City. (Kyodo News via AP)
Updated 28 May 2019

Knife-wielding man attacks schoolgirls in Japan, kills 2

  • Most of the victims were elementary school girls who were lined up at a bus stop
  • Witnesses described a hellish scene: children and adults falling to the ground

KAWASAKI, Japan: A man carrying a knife in each hand and screaming “I will kill you!” attacked a group of schoolgirls and adults as he walked toward a school bus parked at a bus stop just outside Tokyo on Tuesday, killing two and injuring 16 before killing himself, officials said.
Most of the victims were elementary school girls who were lined up at a bus stop near Noborito Park in the city of Kawasaki when a man in his 50s began slashing them with knives. City officials, quoting police, said the suspect was captured but died from a self-inflicted cut to the neck.
Witnesses described a hellish scene: children and adults falling to the ground, some with their shirts soaked with blood; dozens of children running and screaming for help, with their school bags and books scattered on the ground.
“I heard a scream so I stopped and turned around to see what happened. It was not a normal tone of voice,” said Yasuko Atsukata, adding that she then saw one person collapse, and then another one. “The color of their white shirts turned red after they collapsed, then I understood they got stabbed.”
In a nearby parking lot, a boy looking frightened and in shock had scratches on his face, hands and legs, apparently from falling to the ground as he ran for his life.
Masami Arai, an official at the Kawasaki city office, said 16 people, most of them schoolgirls at a local Catholic school, were injured and three others, including the attacker, were believed to have been killed. Arai said three of the injuries were serious and 13 others were not life-threatening.
Police wouldn’t confirm specifics about the attacker. His identity and motive weren’t immediately known. Witnesses said that as the attack unfolded, a bus driver shouted at the man with two knives, and as he was running away he cut his own neck, collapsing in a pool of blood as the police seized him.
Television footage showed emergency workers giving first aid to people inside an orange tent set up on the street, and police and other officials carrying the injured to ambulances.
Kanagawa prefectural police confirmed the death of sixth-grade schoolgirl Hanako Kuribayashi, 11, from Tokyo. Hospital officials at a televised news conference confirmed her death as well as that of a man in his 30s, saying both had been slashed in the head, chest and face.
Separately, doctors at St. Marianna University School of Medicine said a man in his 50s died at the hospital after being brought in from the crime scene with neck injuries. City officials and the media said the man was the suspect.
Most of the victims attended Caritas Gakuen, a well-known private school founded by Soeurs de la Charite de Quebec, an organization of Catholic nuns in Quebec City in Canada.
All of the victims except for two adults are in elementary school, according to city and hospital officials, and their ages are believed to be from 6 to 12. Caritas Gakuen runs from elementary through high school.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was outraged by the attack and would take all necessary measures for children’s safety.
“It was an extremely harrowing incident in which many small children were victimized, and I feel strong resentment,” Abe said as he was hosting President Donald Trump’s four-day state visit, which ended Tuesday. “I will take all possible measures to protect the safety of children.”
Although Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, it has had a series of high-profile killings, including in 2016 when a former employee at a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 people and injured more than 20 others.


Italy has nothing to fear from ESM reform, PM Conte says

Updated 11 December 2019

Italy has nothing to fear from ESM reform, PM Conte says

  • Critics of the planned changes to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) say they would make it more likely that Italy will have to restructure its debt
  • During his speech to parliament, Conte sharply rejected criticisms by the right-wing League and Brothers of Italy parties

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte dismissed criticisms of planned reforms to the euro zone bailout fund on Wednesday, saying the proposals, which have been heavily attacked by right-wing opposition parties, posed no threat to Italy.

Critics of the planned changes to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) say they would make it more likely that Italy will have to restructure its debt, the highest in the euro area as a proportion of national output after Greece’s.

“Italy has nothing to fear ... its debt is fully sustainable, as the main international institutions, including the (EU) Commission have said,” Conte told parliament ahead of a European Council meeting this week to discuss the reform.

He repeated that Rome would not agree to any restrictions on banks holding sovereign debt.

During his speech to parliament, Conte sharply rejected criticisms by the right-wing League and Brothers of Italy parties, saying they appeared aimed at undermining Italy’s membership of the single currency.

“Some of the positions that have emerged during the public debate have unveiled the ill-concealed hope of bringing our country out of the euro zone or even from the European Union,” Conte said.

The League and Brothers of Italy have attacked the planned reforms to the ESM, which they say will open the door for a forced restructuring of Italy’s public debt that would hit Italian banks and savers who invest in government bonds.

Some members of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement have made similar criticisms, adding to tensions with their partner in the ruling coalition, the center-left Democratic Party.

Lawmakers from 5 Star and the Democratic Party appeared to have smoothed over their differences on Wednesday, however, agreeing to drop demands for a veto on measures that could make it easier to reach a debt restructuring accord.

In a final resolution, they scrapped calls for a veto on so-called single limb collective action clauses (CACS), that limit the ability of individual investors to delay any restructuring agreement by holding out for better terms.

Under the new system, restructuring would go ahead after a single, aggregate vote by bondholders regarding all affected bonds while the clauses currently in place require an aggregate vote as well as an individual bond-by-bond vote.

Italy has asked to clarify that the new clauses will not rule out the so-called sub-aggregation, allowing separate votes for different groups of bond issuances to protect small investors, a government official told Reuters.