Copy-cat fears after Tokyo kindergarten attack
By staff and wire reports
TOKYO, Japan -- Police are searching for a woman who stormed into a Tokyo kindergarten wielding a knife, injuring one kindergarten teacher.
Police said they were called to Takachiho kindergarten in Tokyo's Suginami Ward at around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday (0130 GMT) , where a woman apparently attacked the female teacher before fleeing.
The teacher sustained injuries to her arms which police say are not life-threatening.
"The teacher is in shock because she, of course, never thought she would be attacked," said Kenichi Otsuka, director of the kindergarten. "But she has walked to the hospital on her own."
No children were at the kindergarten at the time of the attack -- roughly an hour before classes normally start.
The latest attack comes 11 days after eight children were killed and 13 students and two teachers injured, when a former janitor entered an Ikeda elementary school in Osaka and began stabbing students at random.
Police say it is too early to say what may have motivated Tuesday's attack but there were many fears that the Ikeda massacre could trigger copy-cat incidents.
That massacre shook Japan and may prompt Japan to stiffen its laws on crimes by mentally ill people and to barricade schools, now open to all.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said his government would lose no time in looking at changing the law following the school massacre earlier this month in the western city of Osaka.
The issue has been prominent in the Japanese media, with debate noting that authorities face the delicate task of balancing legal rights of mental patients with the goal of protecting citizens' safety.
Schools across the nation, which generally promoted an open-door policy with their respective communities, have stepped up security following the Ikeda massacre.
Fearing copy-cat attacks, they have posted guards at gates, added extra alarms or reinforced neighborhood patrols.
Takachiho officials say their kindergarten is no exception. After the Ikeda attack, they decided to introduce a 24-hour security patrol, especially when the kindergarten's gates had to be open.
However, local media reported that the teacher was attacked through the gate after the assailant tried to hand her a package and demanded her to open it.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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