One dead, ten hurt in ex-worker's car rampage

A disgruntled worker slammed his car into employees at a Mazda factory in south-west Japan today, killing one and injuring 10, police said.

Toshiaki Hikiji, 42, was arrested about an hour later on attempted murder charges after fleeing in his car from Mazda's Ujina plant in Hiroshima prefecture.

Japanese media reports said Hikiji was a contract worker who had been let go in April. He bore a grudge against the car maker and went there with a knife with the intention to kill, they said.

But Mazda Motor Corp spokesman Kotaro Minagawa said he had quit in April on his own, citing personal reasons, after working just eight days at the plant, and there had been no reports of problems.

The rampage revived memories of a stabbing spree in Tokyo's packed electronics shopping district two years ago, also by an angry car worker, who killed seven people when he slammed a truck into a crowd and then stabbed onlookers.

In today's incident, Hikiji ignored security at the gate and drove into the plant as workers were arriving. The dead man was named as Hiroshi Hamada, 39, a permanent employee, known as "seishain", the company said.

One male worker remained in critical condition, although details were not available, Mr Minagawa said.

"I pray for the spirit of the man who was killed, and pray for the recovery of the 10 who were injured," Mazda president Takashi Yamanouchi said in a statement.

For decades during Japan's modernisation, its major companies guaranteed jobs for life and offered relatively good benefits in return for loyalty.



Video: Killer's car rampage

But car makers, pinched by cost-cutting efforts amid globalisation, are increasingly relying on workers called "haken", who are hired on less attractive contracts than regular workers, often through job-referral companies.

Koetsu Aizawa, professor of economics at Saitama University, said the discriminatory dual system of employment was common at major Japanese companies because regular workers, hired under a lifetime employment system, cannot be fired.

"Japan still needs to foster the idea of equal pay for equal work," he said. "What many Japanese feel is that regular workers do little work but have big attitudes and get big money. It is a huge social problem."

The manufacturers can better respond to changes in market demand with haken workers because they cannot generally dismiss regular employees.

At Hiroshima-based Mazda, contract workers such as Hikiji are hired on a six-month basis, but have contracts directly with Mazda and not with referral companies, which the car maker stopped using last year, Mr Minagawa said.

"They help us when things get busy because production fluctuates," he said of the contract workers, but declined to disclose details of the wage differences.

The Ujina plant is Mazda's main car assembly plant, churning out popular models like the Demio, known as the Mazda2 overseas, and the Roadster.

The plant, which employs 7,000 people - 400 of them on temporary contracts - was operating as normal after the rampage, Mr Minagawa said.

In the 2008 case, 25-year-old Tomohiro Kato, who worked at a Toyota Motor Corp affiliate, had posted angry messages on the internet about his job and is believed to have carried out the killings in a fit of rage.

Such crimes are rare but rising in number in Japan after years of lacklustre economic growth widened the gap between the haves and have-nots. Disaffection among marginalised individuals can grow intense because of unrealistic expectations about success.

Japan has extremely strict gun-control laws and its culture encourages conformity and passivity.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have the right attitude,...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn