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ARTICLE: Japan Seeks Tighter School Security


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Reported by Associated Press on June 12, 2001:

Japan Seeks Tighter School Security

By CHISAKI WATANABE, Associated Press Writer

TOKYO (AP) - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his Cabinet agreed Tuesday on the need for tighter security at the nation's schools following the fatal stabbing of eight children last week. But the government appeared to be divided over calls for stricter controls over the criminally insane.

The attack last Friday at an elementary school in the suburbs of Osaka, Japan's second-largest city, was the worst mass-killing in Japan in years and has generated widespread anger and shock. The accused killer, Mamoru Takuma, is a 37-year-old former janitor with a history of mental illness. Police have quoted him as saying that he deliberately chose to kill children because he wanted to be put to death for the crime. Takuma was expected to be charged with murder and attempted murder.

Shortly after the attack, police noted that Takuma had a history of violence, included the attempted poisoning of four teachers at another school, and Koizumi suggested he wanted a review of Japan's laws regarding the treatment of suspects deemed mentally ill. In a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Koizumi reiterated his desire for increased security at schools. But officials indicated a revision of the law to provide greater controls over the mentally ill was not likely.

``This is an issue we must consider seriously,'' said Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama. ``We must consider specific ways to effectively carry out our current laws.'' The Education Ministry, meanwhile, has instructed all elementary, middle and high schools to re-evaluate campus security. Many have begun closing their gates during the day.

The school where the attack occurred, in a residential suburb, will be closed until Wednesday. On Monday morning, officials and teachers reconstructed the attack for investigators. A mental support team, with 55 experts from 10 organizations, has been set up. Along with the eight children killed, 13 children and two teachers were wounded.

Copyright ツゥ AP and Yahoo News
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