January 13, 1998 in Nation/World

Gunman Holds Hostage At Tokyo Stock Exchange

Los Angeles Times
 

A man believed to be armed with a pistol seized a hostage today and barricaded himself on the 14th floor of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, demanding that stock trading be halted, a Tokyo police spokesman said.

Police were negotiating with the man, who is described as being in his 20s or early 30s and wearing a suit. He entered the building at 1:03 p.m. and was holding his hostage in the stock exchange’s executive suite, which was surrounded by police.

The hostage is believed to be Masahiro Abe, a high-ranking Finance Ministry official on loan to the stock exchange, a spokesman for the police’s Central Division said.

Japanese media reported that the man was also demanding that Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka come to the exchange floor and that the police leave. Trading was proceeding normally, although traders were watching news of the unfolding crisis on a digital ticker.

“A stupid man is doing an idiotic protest because he lost money in the market,” said one dealer, who declined to give his name.

Japanese media reported that the man arrived at the exchange’s executive floor, handed over his name card and asked to see Abe. When Abe appeared, the man pulled out what appeared to be a pistol. The receptionist fled and heard what she thought was a shot. She called to Abe through a closed door and he said he was all right.

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