A 24-year-old man dressed as the Batman villain the Joker menaced a Tokyo subway in a knife and arson attack, injuring at least 17 passengers during Halloween festivities Sunday before being arrested, according to multiple reports.
At least 17 people were injured including three serious cases, the Associated Press said, citing the Tokyo Fire Department.
The attack took place at around 8 p.m. local time on the Keio express line en route to Shinjuku, the busiest train station on the planet with over 3.5 million daily passengers on average as of 2018.
A witness told the Yomiuri newspaper he believed the incident was a “Halloween stunt” until he saw a man walking toward him “slowly waving a long knife,” Reuters reported.
A video posted to social media apparently showed people running from a train before a small explosion which then led to a fire, Reuters said.
The man was taken into custody by police and his motive is not yet known, according to the AP.
Sunday’s incident comes after a pair of separate violent assaults in August, in which two people were burned in an acid attack at a Tokyo metro station and a man armed with a knife injured 10 people on a commuter train; the perpetrator in the latter spree said he wanted to kill women who “looked happy.” In 1995 a doomsday cult killed 13 people and injured nearly 6,000 in a devastating sarin gas attack during rush hour on the Tokyo subway, shocking the nation.
The character of the Joker saw a resurgence in popularity following the divisive 2019 movie Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix, a violent origin story that became the first R-rated film in history to gross $1 billion and won Phoenix the Oscar.
“Man dressed as Joker terrorises Tokyo train” (Reuters)
“Knife-wielding man sets fire on Tokyo train and injures 17” (Japan Times)