Suspected Gunman Holds Hostages in Post Office Near Tokyo

A man believed to have a gun was holed up in a post office in a Tokyo suburb on Tuesday and holding an unidentified number of hostages, in an episode that was unsettling in Japan, where gun violence is extremely rare.

An employee inside the post office in Warabi city called the police at around 2:15 p.m., saying there was a gunman inside, according to Taira Masuda, a spokesman for the police headquarters in Saitama Prefecture, who declined to say how many hostages were being held.

That report, Mr. Masuda said, came about an hour after two men, one in his 40s and one in his 60s, had been shot at a nearby hospital, in Toda city. Another official, the mayor of Toda, said on social media that a man had fired a handgun at Todachuo General Hospital and fled on a motorcycle.

Students and faculty at a dozen elementary schools and six middle schools in Toda went into lockdown, according to a spokesperson for the Toda City Board of Education.

Mayor Fumihito Sugawara, in a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, described the suspect as between 40 and 50 years old, about 5 feet 3 inches tall, with a medium build and holding “what appeared to be a handgun.”

The post office where the suspect was holding hostages was less than a mile from the hospital in Toda. The two men shot at the hospital had non-life-threatening injuries, according to NHK, a public broadcaster.

A hospital spokesman referred inquiries to the police.

Japan has some of the toughest laws for buying firearms in the world, and fatal shootings are extremely rare. Last year, Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister, was assassinated by a gunman during a political campaign speech. It was one of only four deaths by a firearm in all of 2022.

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