Ten minutes after midnight in Tokyo on January 1 a van ploughed into pedestrians on a small street in the Shibuya Ward, injuring at least eight people. Initially, a police spokesperson characterised the crash as an "act of terror", Reuters reported.
The attacker, who reportedly drove the vehicle from the western region of Osaka, has told investigators that he planned to burn the vehicle, according to private network Fuji TV. "If the incident had happened five minutes later, I would've been involved", a woman who walked past the scene shortly after the incident told NHK.
Police immediately cordoned off the street, which was packed with people celebrating the arrival of 2019. One victim is reportedly in a coma.
At 12:10 a.m., the small van began driving into pedestrians on the street, which was closed to vehicular traffic at the time because of revelers visiting the Meiji Shrine and attending New Year's gatherings.
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Kusakabe was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.
The vehicle hit its first victim about 30 metres into the narrow street before knocking down seven more over the next 100 metres, according to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.
A police spokesman said the driver had been detained but has not given out any further details on the identity of the suspect.
Takeshita Dori is closed to traffic and is often tightly packed with fashionistas and worldwide tourists. All was calm as New Year revellers, including children, walked past.