Tokyo Office Fire

An Osaka police spokesman could not confirm a report by public broadcaster NHK citing police as saying there was the “possibility of an arson attack, given the circumstances at the scene”.

An Osaka fire department ­official said the fire was detected at 10.18am (12.18pm AEDT) on the fourth floor. “As of noon, 70 fire engines are at the scene.”

The blaze, in a busy business area near Kitashinchi train station in the city in western Japan, had been put out after 30 minutes.

While most of the building’s exterior remained intact after the fire, a middle-aged woman at the scene told NHK: “There was lots of dark smoke … there was a very strong smell, too.”

A young woman who witnessed the fire also said she had seen a woman trapped on the fourth floor.

“She leaned out and was saying things like ‘Please help’ … She seemed very weak. Maybe she ­inhaled lots of smoke,” she said.

Osaka, a major economic hub, is Japan’s second-biggest metropolis after the greater Tokyo region.

Deadly fires are unusual in Japan, which has strict building standards, and violent crime is also rare. A year ago, a man was charged with murder over a 2019 arson ­attack on a Kyoto animation studio that killed 36 people, the country’s deadliest violent crime in decades.