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Japan police seek fire death motive

Published 01/07/2015

Japan's Bullet Train
Japan's Bullet Train

Japanese police have searched the apartment of the man who set himself on fire on a high-speed bullet train, killing himself and another passenger.

Investigators identified the man as 71-year-old Haruo Hayashizaki. He poured an oil-like liquid over himself and set fire to it at one end of a train car on Tuesday, filling the coach with smoke and killing himself.

A 52-year-old female passenger died from suffocation after suffering throat burns.

Investigators searched his apartment in Tokyo, looking for clues to his actions. Television video showed them carrying out cardboard boxes filled with confiscated items. Police said they have not determined the motive.

Japanese media quoted his neighbours as saying he had repeatedly complained that his meagre pension was barely enough to live on.

As the nation tried to recover from the shocking incident, transport officials met with bullet train operators to seek ways to tighten security without affecting the efficiency of the trains.

Transport Minister Akihiro Ota told the meeting that it would be important to step up luggage controls, also as part of anti-terrorism and fire-prevention efforts.

The 16-car bullet train, called shinkansen in Japanese, travels the 343 miles between Tokyo and Osaka in 2 hours and 33 minutes.

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