It is probably fortunate that no one was killed or injured.
On December 8, Atsushi Kamatsuki, 46, an unemployed man living in Funabashi City, Chiba Prefecture, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Investigation Division 1. Suspected of arson except for arson of buildings, etc. and obstruction of business by force, etc., the suspect filled a communications facility buried underground by NTT East with gas, set it on fire, and blew it up inside a manhole. The cover, weighing approximately 100 kg, was blown off.
The incident took place in the business district of Nihonbashi, Tokyo. The Bank of Japan and the Mitsukoshi Department Store are located nearby. The explosion occurred during the daytime on November 20, and it is a wonder that no one was injured when the 100 kg lid blew off.
The facility in question had a concrete box called a “handhole” (60 cm long, 120 cm wide, and 135 cm deep) installed inside a manhole for inspection. The suspect injected gas through a hole in the “handhole” above ground. It is believed that he filled the box with gas and set it on fire. A cassette cylinder and some flammable debris of solid fuel were found at the scene. Based on security camera footage, the police identified the suspect as Kamatsuki. Upon investigation, Kamatsuki denied the crime, saying he did not remember it.
Revolutionary on Twitter
Six communication cables were burnt in the explosion, disrupting as many as 180 lines. It took about 17 hours to restore them. Kamatsuki’s crime does not appear to have been spontaneous. A Twitter post that appears to be Kamatsuki’s shows his knowledge of telecommunication lines.
The posts, which appear to belong to Kamatsuki, reveal his extensive knowledge of communication cables: “There are two lines running underground in a famous amusement facility, and you need a vice to open manhole covers,” he wrote. Moreover, citing the prewar Japanese military and the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the book also states that stopping the discharge of electricity would cause a major uproar. The contents of the letter were written with the air of a revolutionary.
Taihei Ogawa, a former Kanagawa Prefectural Police detective and crime journalist, explains the background of the incident.
The suspect must have originally had a strong interest in telecommunications equipment. As he researched on the Internet and in books, his interest grew. His desire to know what would happen if communications equipment were destroyed escalated and led him to commit the crime. They must not have had any serious intention of committing a terrorist attack.
However, this incident cannot be seen as the result of an individual with an unusual hobby. 100 kg of lid was blown off. If anyone had been injured, the suspect would have been questioned on suspicion of attempted murder. The seriousness of the crime was unimaginable, and the easygoing attitude of the suspect could have led to a very serious situation.
Please take a look at the photos of the crime scene in the “Related Images” section. It gives me a shudder to think of the massive, heavy manhole in the photo blowing away and falling on top of my head.
Photographed by： Shinji Hasuo