Pedestrians injured as van ‘deliberately’ driven into New Year crowd in Tokyo

Policemen stand next to a auto which ploughed into pedestrians on New Year day in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday.

A vehicle plowed through a crowd of pedestrians celebrating New Year's Eve in Tokyo, Japan, in the early morning of January 1.

Crowds had gathered in Takeshita Dori, a very popular street in the fashionable Harajuku district, to ring in the new year when the man struck.

The suspect, 21, Kazuhiro Kusakabe, was arrested and being questioned, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said on customary condition of anonymity. There was a tank of kerosene in the rental auto, which he said he planned to use to burn the vehicle, the investigative sources said. The street was closed to vehicular traffic at the time as it was expected to be crowded on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Police took into custody a man in his 20s but did not further identify him.

NHK TV footage showed a small van with the entire front end smashed and officers and ambulance workers rushing to the scene.

It is not yet clear whether he was referring to a specific execution or the capital punishment system in Japan.

Every New Year's Eve, the train line that includes Harajuku station runs all night, for people welcoming the new year with a shrine visit.

The vehicle barreled down the narrow street, which was packed with pedestrians, slamming into a number of them, police said. At least seven people were killed and a dozen injured.

  • Joey Payne