Five people have been killed in a stabbing spree in a small town in western Japan, police say.

A 40-year-old neighbour of the victims was arrested in connection with Monday's attacks.

The motive was unclear.

Media reports said the victims ranged in age from 60 to 80 years old and lived in two houses set among farms in the city of Sumoto on Awaji Island.

The man who was arrested was identified as Tatsuhiko Hirano, according to Keizo Okumoto, deputy chief of the Sumoto police department.

Violent crime is relatively rare in Japan. Okumoto said such incidents are unusual in Sumoto, a city of 44,000 people known for its oranges, onions and Awaji beef.

Source: AP