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 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 19:43 GMT
Japan bank hostage drama ends
Police outside the bank in Kyoto where the drama unfolded
Some 100 police officers surrounded the bank
A failed businessman who took four people hostage at a bank in a dispute over loans has given himself up.

The man, identified as 60-year-old Eiichi Tokuda, surrendered after a 17-hour stand-off at the bank in the western city of Kyoto.

I'm going to mete out punishment on the criminals at the financial institution that put me in these dire circumstances

Eiichi Tokuda
speaking in a video
He had stormed into the Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank, produced a gun and demanded to see the chairman.

Police said Tokuda's actions were apparently related to his failure to negotiate ways to repay a debt of some $7m.

More than 100 police officers converged on the scene when news of the hostage-taking emerged.

All four hostages were released unharmed - two earlier in the day and two when Tokuda gave himself up.

In a videotape left at his company before leaving for the bank, Tokuda was shown waiving a pistol at the camera and vowing to mete out punishment to financial criminals who had put him in a difficult position.

It is believed the debts are connected to a failed property company he ran, which folded in 1991.

During the stand-off, the private television network Fuji showed footage of the alleged hostage-taker.

He was smiling and holding what appeared to be a small pistol in his right hand through a half-opened blind on the sixth floor of the Chuo Shinkin Bank.

Hostage incidents

In a videotape - broadcast by Fuji earlier - the man showed off two guns and 100 bullets.

"With this hand, I'm going to mete out punishment on the criminals at the financial institution that put me in these dire circumstances," he said, flashing a pistol.

"I want to question the government about how this country is being managed," he said. "That's why I chose to be involved in this incident."

Hostage-taking has been on the increase in Japan, local media reported.

Earlier this month, police stormed an office building to end a 33-hour standoff with a carpenter who allegedly shot and killed a man and took another hostage.

In late November, police arrested another man accused of taking two women hostage with a kitchen knife at a coffee shop.


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13 Jan 98 | In Depth
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