New information has emerged about the tragic incident that occurred on the Tokaido Shinkansen line earlier this week. In what appears to be a case of suicide via self-immolation, two have died — the elderly man who lit himself on fire and a middle-aged woman who was accidentally caught up in the incident.
The man who committed suicidehas now been identified as Haruo Hayashizaki, a 71-year-old resident of Tokyo. The Asahi Shimbun has reported that Hayashizaki was seen the day before the incident heading to a gas station carrying a plastic tank to buy fuel. The woman who saw Hayashizaki, a neighbor, had asked why he was carrying the tank. He explained that he was going to the gas station but gave her no further information about his plans. It has also been reported that Hayashizaki had recently started complaining about the small amount of money he was receiving for his pension. He had apparently said, “Even though I paid into it for so long, the amount I’m getting is horrible. I can’t live on this.”
▼ A Tomo News report on the incident with digital recreation
The woman who also died as a result of the incident has been identified as Yoshiko Kuwahara, a 52-year-old physical therapist. Various media outlets have reported that Kuwahara had posted on Facebook immediately before the incident that she was on her way to visit and pray at Ise Grand Shrine. Those who knew Kuwahara are obviously in shock and have called her a sweet and warm person. She lived together with her husband and oldest son in Yokohama.
▼ A news report on Kuwahara
Investigators have indicated that Kuwahara died as a result of smoke inhalation and another 26 people have also reportedly suffered smoke inhalation-related injuries.
Though there was initially some speculation that this might be a terrorism-related incident, investigators are currently treating this as a suicide. Hayashizaki, who had purchased a short-range ticket with cash before the incident, was captured on camera removing the plastic tank before starting the fire.