15 Killed in Osaka Adult Video Theater Fire

Tod Hunter
OSAKA, Japan — A man set fire to a Osaka adult video center Wednesday, killing at least 15 people in what police said was a suicide attempt.

The Cats Adult Video Theater, located on the ground floor of a seven-story building in an entertainment district in Osaka, had 32 viewing cubicles each equipped with a cot, a television and a DVD player. The video center offered mostly adult movies, but also cartoons and Hollywood films. Its clientele included businessmen who used the rooms as a cheap alternative to hotels after missing the last train home and young people whose low-paying jobs cannot pay for standard housing.

When the blaze broke out at about 3 a.m., most of the cubicles were occupied.

The suspect, who was one of the customers, was arrested on suspicion of arson and attempted murder, Osaka police spokesman Kengo Hirami said. The suspect admitted to police that he set a fire using a stash of newspapers in his bag, according to Harami. Police quoted the suspect as saying he did it because "I was tired of living," public broadcaster NHK reported.

Officials have not determined the identities of the 15 dead. Several of the injured, nine men and one woman, were hospitalized in serious condition.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has instructed fire department officials to conduct an emergency nationwide inspection of video shops, Internet cafes, karaoke bars and other entertainment facilities with individual cubicles.