Japan to review mental health system after stabbings

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Japan is reviewing its mental health system to see how a man who was hospitalised after making violent threats came to be released after just 12 days and was later able to kill 19 people.

Satoshi Uematsu, 26, has admitted to carrying out the country’s worst mass killing in decades on Tuesday when he stabbed to death 19 people and wounded 26 others at a care centre for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, west of Tokyo.

A former employee of the centre, Uematsu left his job in February and was forcibly hospitalised by city authorities for evaluation after having made verbal and written threats to kill the mentally disabled, including those at the centre.

His release from hospital 12 days later, after it was decided he posed no threat, has raised questions about the decision to discharge him as well as his follow-up monitoring.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now met with relevant officials and ordered a review into the mental healthcare system, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Thursday.

“The prime minister ordered the ministers to study necessary measures, such as strengthening safety at facilities and following up on those receiving compulsory mental treatment, as swiftly as possible and putting them into action,” Suga said.

According to the health ministry, mentally ill people who threaten to harm themselves or others can be subjected to involuntary hospitalisation.

The government will review the timing of such admissions and discharges, follow-up care after they are released and the sharing of information with police, Jiji Press said.