-UPDATE: November 22nd, 10:35 PM Shortly after 9:00 PM, the hostage taker, believed to be in his 30s or 40s, released a female that was being held inside the bank. Television news cameras showed the woman walking out of the building’s side entrance and over to waiting police officers. She apparently had her hands bound together at the wrist. Shortly after, an officer delivered two bags of food and water supplies to the same door, which were then brought inside by someone after he retreated. NHK News has said the entire area around the bank has been roped off, and there are over 200 policemen pressent at the scene.-
Police in Aichi Prefecture say a man at a bank has taken five people hostage with a knife, and demands that current Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda resign from his position. The location is a branch of the Toyokawa Shinkin Bank, and a spokesman has only confirmed the number of people being held hostage. It is believed that no one has been hurt at this point, however police have not been able to persuade the man to let the others go.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that the suspect entered the bank in the early afternoon on Thursday, and other than the demand of Prime Minister Noda, has only asked for food, water, and a megaphone. Police sources say the few things he has said include that he wants to express his thoughts, and that he wants Noda to quit. Violent crime is very rare in Japan, and taking hostages even more so, making this situation particularly unusual given the political demand.
Just last week Prime Minister Noda dissolved the Lower House of parliament and called for a general election on December 16th. The hostage suspect hasn’t given any explanation on why he want the Japanese premier to step down, however much of the public has been unhappy with Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) after little has been done to meet their campaign promises of change over the last three years. Because of this, it is widely expected that the opposing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by former prime minister Shinzo Abe, will return to power. Meaning instead of taking people hostage, the suspect only needed to wait a few more weeks.[via Reuters]