Police have arrested an 86-year-old gunman who had taken several people hostage at a post office in Warabi City, located just outside Tokyo.
An eight-hour-long standoff ensued with police communicating with the man by phone before finally storming the building and detaining him.
His motive remains unclear but police believe he was involved in an earlier incident at a hospital and have also linked him to a fire at an apartment near the hospital, which is reportedly the suspect’s home.
What happened at the post office?
“At approximately 2:15 p.m. today, a person has taken hostages and holed up at a post office in Chuo 5-chome area of Warabi City… The perpetrator is possessing what appears to be a gun,” said an official statement.
“Citizens near the scene are urged to follow police instructions and evacuate in accordance with police instructions.”
Japanese broadcaster Nippon TV initially said that two female post office workers were among the hostages, citing police sources.
More than five hours after the standoff began, one member of staff came out uninjured.
The TBS broadcaster said that Saitama Prefectural Police urged 300 residents in the nearby area to evacuate.
Television footage showed the suspect inside the post office in a baseball cap and a white vest under a dark coat, apparently carrying a gun attached to a cord around his neck.
Police stormed the post office about an hour after the second hostage was released unharmed.
The post office standoff came as police probed a shooting at a hospital in the same region earlier in the day that injured two.
Police said the victims, reportedly a doctor and a patient, are both conscious and their wounds are not life-threatening.
It is understood the man was at the hospital and then came to the post office, an official is quoted as saying.
Violent crime in Japan
Violent crime is rare in Japan, and it has one of the lowest murder rates in the world. The East Asian country has strict regulations on gun ownership.
Recent years have seen a number of high-profile violent crimes make headlines, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year.
In April, a man was arrested for allegedly hurling an explosive towards Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was unharmed in the incident.
In May, a man was arrested in central Japan after allegedly killing four people in a gun and knife attack.