The three victims died at a hospital. Police said the attacker is barricaded in a building said to be the home of the chairman of the city council. Television images showed police in bulletproof vests near the building with an ambulance nearby.
A woman — reportedly the mother of the suspect — escaped from the building where the attacker holed up, and was placed under police protection, according to local media reports, which also indicated that another woman remained in the building.
Gun crimes are extremely rare in Japan, where firearms are strictly regulated. The fatal shooting of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at a campaign event last year with a homemade weapon shocked the country.
Anyone trying to get a gun in Japan needs to apply for a permit, attend a class on gun safety and laws, and pass a written test. There is a full-day training course on safe shooting techniques.
There are multiple rounds of checks and verification on the gun owner’s background and health, including information about their family, mental health, personal debt and criminal record. The gun must be registered with and inspected by police.
Last year, nine shootings, causing four deaths and two injuries, were recorded in the country. Six of the shootings involved the yakuza criminal network, according to the National Police Agency.
Julia Mio Inuma