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Former top Japanese gov’t official arrested in son’s killing

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Hideaki Kumazawa, left, a former top Japanese government official, leaves a police station in Tokyo Monday, June 3, 2019. Kumazawa has been arrested in his son’s killing and media reports say the retired bureaucrat told investigators he had feared his reclusive son might harm others. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — A former top Japanese government official has been arrested in his son’s killing, police said Monday, though they declined to comment on local media reports saying the retiree told investigators he had feared his reclusive son might harm others.

Tokyo police said Hideaki Kumazawa, 76, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of stabbing to death his 44-year-old son Eiichiro. Police sent Kumazawa to prosecutors Monday, seeking his indictment.

The incident comes days after a man described as a social recluse — known in Japan as “hikikomori” — stabbed a number of schoolchildren at a bus stop outside Tokyo, killing two people before killing himself. Another 17 people were wounded, mostly schoolgirls.

Kumazawa, a retired agricultural vice minister, told investigators that he stabbed his son fearing he may harm others as in the earlier case, according to Japan’s NHK public broadcaster.

NHK said police were told that Kumazawa’s son returned to live with his parents last month, and the family have since frequently quarreled. The father told police that he was often verbally and physically abuse by his son, the report said.

Kumazawa told police that his son got upset about the noise coming from a nearby elementary school during an athletic event Saturday and the two quarreled, NHK said. Kumazawa told investigators that he thought he had to do something that his son would not cause harm to the others, NHK reported.

Tokyo police declined to comment on the reports. It was unclear whether Kumazawa had a lawyer.

Last week’s attack in Kawasaki have highlighted growing concern about “hikikomori,” though rights groups and experts have cautioned that the crime should not be easily linked to the man being a social recluse.

A government survey in March showed that Japan now has an estimated 610,000 “hikikomori” aged from 40 to 64, with the majority of them are men and many still taken care of by their parents.

Kawasaki city officials have said that an uncle and aunt of the man in the knifing spree there had turned to the city’s mental health and welfare center more than a dozen times since 2017, expressing concern about their nephew’s reclusive tendency and how he might react when people come to care for them in their home.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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