Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Woman attempts 'hara-kiri' suicide in front of Japanese PM's residence

11:19 AM EDT Aug 30
TOKYO (AP) - A woman blocked from driving through a security barrier at the Japanese prime minister's residence Tuesday attempted to kill herself by committing "hara-kiri" disembowelment, a police official said. The woman was in critical condition.
The woman, identified only as a 50-year-old housewife from Nagano in central Japan, cut herself in the abdomen, the neck, the left wrist and both upper arms with a small knife as security agents tried to persuade her to come out of her car, a police official said on customary condition of anonymity.
"She was committing hara-kiri," said the official at the Kojimachi police station in central Tokyo.
The woman was rushed to a hospital by ambulance.
The police official said the woman had pamphlets criticizing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's government, with a message - written in black ink with brush - saying "Stop Koizumi's coalition government."
Police are investigating the case as alleged trespassing and illegal possession of weaponry. But the official quoted her husband as saying that the woman has been psychologically unstable recently.
"Hara-kiri" suicide dates from Japan's feudal period when ritual suicide was considered an honorable death under the samurai warrior ethic. While Japan's suicide rate is high - the National Police say 32,325 Japanese killed themselves 2004 - disembowelment is extremely rare.
The incident came on the first day of the campaign for Sept. 11 parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was campaigning in a Tokyo suburb early Tuesday and was not in his residence at the time of the attempted intrusion.
Japan has bolstered security in public places amid campaign jitters. A plane in northern Japan was evacuated on Monday after a man called in a bomb threat, but no bomb was found.
NHK reported that Tokyo police deployed 8,000 agents, including riot police, around the capital for the electoral season, a record number for election campaign security.
Police refused to confirm the report.

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