Hostage at Tokyo Stock Exchange

The economic ructions in Asia produced their most violent incident yet when an armed man took a hostage in the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) because he was upset with the government's management of the economy and the penetration into Japan of foreign companies.

Tetsuo Itagaki, a former member of an extreme right- wing organisation, gave himself up to police yesterday evening after a five-hour stand off on the executive floor of the stock exchange building in central Tokyo. At 1pm, according to police sources quoted by Japanese television, he had entered the office of Masahiro Abe, an official of the Finance Ministry, who oversees the running of the exchange, and taken him hostage with a firearm.

He asked to see the finance minister, Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, demanded that stock trading be suspended, and expressed anger at the government's handling of the economy which is perilously close to recession, dragged down by the currency crisis in south-east Asia and Korea.

All afternoon, the streets around the TSE were sealed off and 400 riot police swarmed around the high-rise building's entrances. Hundreds of cameramen and reporters congregated and television helicopters buzzed in the sky but trading on the lower floors went on, and the exchange actually closed up 91.50 points.