HACHIOJI, Tokyo -- The assailant in a blade attack on sociologist Shinji Miyadai in this suburban Tokyo city remains at large a week after the incident amid a shortage of security footage and eyewitness accounts.
Miyadai, 63, was slashed on Tokyo Metropolitan University's Minami-Osawa Campus in Hachioji on Nov. 29. The Metropolitan Police Department's first investigation division was still looking for the suspect on a charge of attempted murder on Dec. 6, a week after the attack.
According to a source close to the investigation, security cameras near the attack scene captured a man fleeing. He headed eastward after the assault, leaving the campus from the side of a gate, located about 100 meters away from the site. He was also spotted walking in a residential area north of the university.
However, as the university is surrounded by residential areas and hills, there are apparently far fewer security cameras in the area compared to in the heart of the capital. Police are analyzing footage and receiving information from the public, but it has been taking time.
An additional hindrance is the timing of the attack, just before sunset. "I couldn't tell who he was because it was dark and he wore a mask," Miyadai said. The man wore a cap as well. The attack occurred in a quiet area of the campus, meaning there were reportedly few eyewitness accounts.
Miyadai teaches classes on Tuesdays only, and the incident occurred about seven minutes after the class ended. He was assaulted while heading to a parking lot by himself to go home, so there is a possibility that the suspect knew the victim's schedule and was waiting to ambush him.
Police believe that the suspect's motive might be a grudge, as Miyadai was repeatedly slashed in the back of the head, neck and face, among other places.
While the university conducted classes the following day as usual, unrest has spread among students.
A 20-year-old first-year student spotted Miyadai sitting on a sidewalk curb right after the incident. He said that the area around the victim's neck was bloody and that blood was splashed over his face as well. "I can't forget Dr. Miyadai bleeding. It's making me lose my train of thought during classes, and I don't want to pass through the site again. I want to forget the incident quickly," he said.
Following the incident, the university set up a response team to secure safety. It has beefed up on-campus patrols by university employees and tightened security, and has said it will respond to consultations from anxious students.
The assault occurred at around 4:17 p.m. on Nov. 29. Miyadai sustained serious injuries that are expected to take a month to heal. He had many wounds on both hands and arms as he desperately defended himself.
The suspect at large appeared to be aged around his 20s to 30s, about 180 centimeters tall, and heavyset. He was wearing a black jacket and pants. Police believe that the suspect fled with the weapon as it has not been found at the scene.
(Japanese original by Takuya Suzuki, Maki Kihara and Ayumu Iwasaki, Tokyo City News Department)