Reporter Slain With Shotgun at Japan Office

United Press International

Police in western Japan searched Monday for an assailant who burst into a regional office of a leading Tokyo newspaper and began firing a shotgun at reporters, killing one and seriously wounding another.

Investigators were unsure of a motive but said that Sunday night's shooting did not appear to be random. The case immediately drew nationwide attention in Japan, where virtually all private ownership of guns is forbidden and fatal shootings are rare.

Initial speculation focused on threats that the slain reporter, Tomohiro Kojiri, received late last year after he published a story critical of tactics used by police against Japan's Korean minority.

Regional News Bureau

The shooting occurred at a regional bureau of Asahi, one of the country's leading newspapers, in Nishinomiya, outside the city of Kobe, about 300 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Kojiri, 29, and two other reporters were sitting in the second-floor office when a man wearing a ski mask burst in and opened fire at close range with a shotgun.

Kojiri was fatally wounded and died Monday. Hyoe Inukai, 42, was hospitalized in critical condition with a chest wound after surgery. The third reporter escaped unharmed when the assailant, after firing twice, fled on foot, police said.

Police mounted a wide investigation but officers said they were hampered by uncertainty over a motive. Investigators said they were checking recent stories filed by the bureau but were unsure if the target was the reporters or the newspaper itself.

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