Woman Slashes Kindergarten Teacher in Tokyo

From Associated Press

A woman with a kitchen knife forced her way into a Tokyo kindergarten and slashed a teacher before fleeing Tuesday, less than two weeks after a man stormed an elementary school and stabbed eight children to death.

The teacher, a 23-year-old woman, was cut on her hands and leg before the attacker fled, Japanese police said. The teacher's injuries were minor.

The school was not yet open for the day and there were no children near the school's back gate, where the early-morning attack occurred.

The assailant shouted for the teacher to let her in, school official Moritsugu Nagai said. When the teacher approached, the woman slashed her through the gate, police said. Two guards were on duty near the front gate.

Police said the attacker, believed to be middle-aged, was carrying a kitchen knife. Hours later, she was still at large. Reports said she might also have assaulted the teacher with a stick.

The kindergarten, attended by about 200 children, was closed after the incident, and arriving students were sent home, said school official Naoko Ezawa.

Although the school has been using guards and locking its gates for some time, many Japanese schools pride themselves on their openness to the community.

Concern over the safety of Japan's schools was heightened after the slaughter of the eight first- and second-graders at a prestigious elementary school in a suburb of Osaka, in western Japan on June 8.

That attack shocked Japan and prompted calls from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and others for increased school security.

On Tuesday, the principal of that school said officials are considering razing the building where the attack occurred. Parents fear that attending classes there would be too traumatic for the children, Yoshio Yamane said. The school has remained closed since the killings, and no date is set for classes to resume.

Because the man arrested in the attack, Mamoru Takuma, had a history of psychological treatment, the incident also fueled a debate over the handling of suspects believed to be mentally unstable.

Takuma, 37, was accused in 1999 of slipping tranquilizers into the tea of four teachers at a school where he worked as a janitor. Found to be schizophrenic, he was never charged and was sent to a mental hospital, which later released him.

Koizumi and his Cabinet agreed last week on the need for tighter security at the nation's schools, and the Education Ministry has instructed all elementary, middle and high schools to reevaluate security. Many have begun posting guards or closing their gates during the day.

The massacre was Japan's worst mass killing since a deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway system six years ago.

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