After stabbing attack, Caritas Elementary School reopens in Kawasaki

On 28 May, 19 students were attacked by Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, who struck when the girls were lined up to board a school bus. A girl and a parent died in the attack, whilst the murderer committed suicide. The scene of the tragedy continues to attract mourners.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Caritas Elementary School, a Catholic school in Tama, Kawasaki (Kanagawa prefecture), reopened this morning under the watchful eyes of security staff and parents.

On 28 May, 19 of its students were attacked by Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, who began stabbing them as they waited in line to board a bus on their way to school. Three people died: a parent, an 11-year-old girl and the attacker, who committed suicide.

Following the attack, the bus stop was moved, and instead of using buses with the school’s name, public buses have been rented. Many parents have opted instead to drive their children to school.

This morning, the bus stop was heavily guarded by school officials, security officers and police. Despite the tense climate, some students seemed happy to meet friends again.

Some parents waved their children goodbye as a bus left for the school, whilst others got on the vehicle with the children in order to see them off at the school gates.

The school said it has allowed students to wear normal clothes instead of uniforms and parents to drop off and pick up their children following the attack.

"We were worried about how the children would feel, but they didn't seem to be too distressed, which is a relief," said Hiroaki Takamatsu, the school's secretariat chief.

More than a week after the tragedy, the scene of the crime has seen a steady flow of people in mourning.

One of them was a high school student who stopped on her way to school. Absorbed in prayer, she left a hymn and a letter. "I find it difficult to find my own words, so I decided to leave this hymn instead," the note read.

Hanako Kuribayashi, an 11-year-old Caritas Elementary School student, and Satoshi Oyama, a 39-year-old Foreign Ministry official and father of another girl who attends the school, were killed in the incident.

The attacker Ryuichi Iwasaki, 51, died from a self-inflicted stab wound to the neck shortly.

Police believe the attack was premeditated as Iwasaki had purchased knives months in advance. A man fitting Iwasaki’s description was also seen visiting the area four days before the attack, but his motive remains unknown.

Investigations are now focusing on the murderer’s mental health.