|Police and firefighters inspect the site of a van attack near Takeshita Street in Tokyo, Jan. 1. A car slammed into pedestrians on a street where people had gathered for New Year's festivities. Kyodo News via AP|
|A policeman guards a roped-off crime scene the morning after a man deliberately drove into the crowd on New Year's Eve on Takeshita Street, in Tokyo's fashion district of Harajuku, on Jan. 1. Nine people were hurt, one seriously.|
By Jung Min-ho
A suspected member of a Japanese cult rammed his vehicle into pedestrians in central Tokyo on New Year's Day, injuring eight people, in what he said was "retaliation."
According to local media Tuesday, police have arrested Kazuhiro Kusakabe, 21, on charges of attacking a random crowd on Takeshita Street with his vehicle, "with an intention to kill."
"I did that to retaliate against the death penalty," the suspect told police.
Police said they are still investigating his motives, but some media reports said the man had linked the attack to the executions in July of 13 members of Aum Shinrikyo, a doomsday cult founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984.
NHK World reported that Kusakabe used a rental minivan for the attack, which was aimed at revelers who were celebrating the New Year in the crowded area.
He was also carrying a 20-liter tank of kerosene in the van, which he said he had planned to use to burn the vehicle, police said.
After the crash, the man fled but was later caught.
Aum Shinrikyo is responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack that killed 13 people, seriously injured 54 and affected nearly 1,000 more. Some estimates claim as many as 6,000 people were injured.