Man wielding knife sets fire to Tokyo train, injuring at least 17

Firefighters and rescue workers gather outside Kokuryo Station on the Keio line in the city of Chofu in western Tokyo on Oct. 31, 2021. (STR/Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) — A 24-year-old man has been arrested in Japan after a knife attack on a train left at least 17 people injured Sunday evening, police told CNN.

Witnesses say the suspect was wearing a costume depicting the character of the Joker from the Batman franchise.

The man told investigators that he “wanted to kill people and be given a death penalty” and had hoped to kill at least two people, according to the police.

He was arrested at the scene by Tokyo Metropolitan Police on suspicion of attempted murder.

According to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, the suspect was arrested after brandishing a knife and starting a fire on a moving train around 8 p.m. (7 a.m. ET) near Kokuryo Station in Chofu City. The train was bound for Shinjuku Station.

The alleged attacker used cigarette lighter fluid, causing large flames to rise briefly and burning some seats, NHK reported citing police.

At least one passenger — a man in his 70s — is in critical condition after being stabbed in the chest, police said.

Video tweeted by an eyewitness appears to show the 24-year-old suspect wearing a purple suit and bright green shirt, along with a purple tie, surrounded by police officers inside a Tokyo train.

A police officer can be heard in the video saying “the suspect is in custody.”

While violent crime is rare in Japan, there has been a spate of violent knife attacks by assailants unknown to the victims.

In August, 10 passengers on a train in Tokyo were stabbed by a man with a knife, according to the Tokyo Fire Department. The suspect later turned himself in at a convenience store, NHK reported at the time. Tokyo Metropolitan Police said the man confessed that he “just wanted to kill any women who looked happy, anyone,” NHK reported.

In 2019, two people, including a 11-year-old girl, were killed and 17 other children injured in a stabbing spree in the city of Kawasaki, about 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Tokyo. In 2016, 19 people were killed in an attack at a care home for disabled people — the deadliest mass killing in Japan since the end of World War II.

And in June 2008, a man in a light truck drove into a crowd in Tokyo’s popular Akihabara district and then jumped out of the vehicle and started stabbing pedestrians, killing seven people.

Japan — a country considered one of the safest in the world — strictly regulates weapons. It’s illegal for people to carry a pocket knife, craft knife, hunting knife or box cutter in public, according to the US State Department.