Hostage crisis unveils grudge: Japanese elderly man vs. post office

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A suspect, (center), identified as Tsuneo Suzuki, who barricaded himself with a gun at a post office, arrives at a police station in Warabi, north of Tokyo on Oct 31. Police ended an eight-hour standoff with the gunman at a post office Tuesday by arresting the suspect after two hostages were freed safely in an attack authorities said could be related to an earlier shooting at a hospital. (AP)

TOKYO, Japan, Nov 1, (Agencies): Japanese authorities are investigating the motives of an 86-year-old man who held two women hostage in a post office after allegedly setting his home on fire and firing shots at a hospital. The incident unfolded in Saitama, just outside Tokyo, leaving two hospital staff wounded, while the hostages were thankfully unharmed after an intense eight-hour ordeal on Tuesday.

Reports from the media suggest that Tsuneo Suzuki harbored resentment toward the postal service and held a grudge against a doctor at the hospital. A Saitama police spokesman stated that Suzuki had made specific demands to police officers at the scene, though the nature of those demands remains undisclosed due to the ongoing investigation.

In addition to a handgun worn around his neck, Suzuki was reportedly armed with two knives and carried an 18-liter container along with two bottles containing an unspecified liquid. He confirmed to the police that he was responsible for both the hospital shooting, resulting in two injuries, and the fire at his apartment. Broadcaster NTV reported that Suzuki told the police he had “shot” at the hospital and “burned my house.”

It was revealed that Suzuki’s frustration stemmed from a meeting with a doctor at the hospital, according to the Asahi Shimbun. He also held a grudge against the post office, which dated back to a traffic accident.

The eight-hour standoff at the post office concluded after 10 p.m., with live television broadcasts showing the building surrounded by police vehicles with flashing lights.

Notably, Japan boasts remarkably low crime rates and minimal gun violence, thanks to some of the world’s strictest firearms laws.

The police ultimately apprehended Suzuki after one of the hostages was released, and the other managed to escape the building independently.

Earlier in the day, Suzuki had been observed firing a gun at Todachuo General Hospital, injuring two individuals, reportedly a doctor and a patient, before fleeing on a motorcycle. Before this, a fire had erupted at Suzuki’s apartment in the city of Toda, which is located near the post office.

Neighbors described Suzuki as a friendly, solitary individual, with one unnamed friend assuring that they had never seen anything dangerous inside his room.

Japan’s demographics reveal that over one in ten people are 80 years or older, with an increasing number of them living alone and losing contact with their relatives. While Japan has undergone significant cultural and economic transformations, its social safety net has not kept pace, placing the responsibility for caring for the elderly primarily on their families.

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