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Japanese bullet train suicide by fire being probed

Tokyo: Japanese police launched an investigation on Wednesday to probe Tuesday’s Shinkansen (bullet train) incident when a man set himself on fire, killing himself and another passenger and injuring 26 others, Efe news agency reported.

These are the first deaths to have occurred on the Shinkansen, otherwise known for their safety and punctuality.

The incident shocked the Japanese society though suicides are not uncommon in the country.

Haruo Hayashizaki, the 71-year-old victim, poured inflammable liquid on himself and set himself on fire, while traveling on the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka, according to eyewitnesses.

A woman, 52, travelling on the same coach, choked to death in the smoke.

Twenty-six others were injured and two of them are in serious condition.

The incident caused interruption in services along the Tokyo-Osaka high-speed line.

The police searched Hayashizaki’s house in Tokyo’s Suginami district on Wednesday for clues to the motive behind his suicide, state-owned broadcaster NHK reported.

They are also probing how Hayashizaki was able to carry inflammable liquid inside the Shinkansen.

Just before the incident, Hayashizaki offered bank-notes of 1,000 yen ($8) to other passengers and asked them to move away from him, eyewitnesses told the police.

People who knew Hayashizaki told the media he was under financial stress.