Seats are generally reserved for elderly and disabled passengers.

The seats at the corners of the carriages on Japanese trains and subways are designated as “priority seats” for the benefit of elderly, physically disabled, and pregnant passengers. But though passengers outside those demographics who are sitting in the priority seats are asked to give up their spot should someone in greater of need come along, they’re not forbidden from sitting in them, nor is their any penalty for non-compliance, as the system generally relies on polite courtesy between passengers.

However, such civility broke down in a startling way on the morning of February 7 on the Kanjo Line in Osaka. 62-year-old Motokazu Koizumi spotted a 34-year-old man (whose name has been withheld), who was on his way to work, sitting in a priority seat. This wasn’t the first time Koizumi had crossed paths with the man, either, as on a previous day they’d gotten into verbal altercation on the train while Koizumi was on his way home from working night shift.

Koizumi says “I was angry that he was sitting in the priority seat [on February 7],” so when the train reached Taisho Station at roughly 6:50 a.m. and the younger man stood up to exit the train, Koizumi stabbed him multiple times in the stomach with a fruit knife, inflicting serious, though thankfully non-fatal, wounds. Koizumi then fled the scene, though security footage showed him making his escape following the attack. No statement has been made in regards to whether or not the victim, in spite of his young age, had some sort of not-visually-apparent condition that prompted him to sit down in a priority seat.

The following day, Koizumi, who lives in Osaka’s Taisho Ward, contacted the authorities and turned himself in. “It was only a matter of time until they figured out I was the one who did it,” Koizumi said, “but I had to work, so I couldn’t turn myself in right away.”

Koizumi was subsequently placed under arrested for attempted murder. The incident underscores the need to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, even in ordinarily safe Japan, and also, even in the unlikely event that you believe you’d be morally justified in committing assault with a deadly weapon, to consider carefully the full ramifications such actions will have on your work schedule.

Sources: Shirabee via Jin, Sanspo, NHK News Web
Top image: Pakutaso