A woman and four boys were found dead in a room on the first floor of the three-story building in Hitachi, a town in Ibaraki prefecture northeast of Tokyo. A girl found with several stab wounds was rushed to a hospital, where she was declared dead.
Hitachi police spokesman Masataka Suzuki said the six victims are believed to be the family of the man, Hirobumi Komatsu.
Suzuki said Komatsu has told police he set the fire. The case remains under investigation. Japanese media say the girl was 11 and the other children were ages 3 through 6.
Komatsu had also suffered burns, Kyodo News service reported. The fire was put out within the hour of the report, police said.
Japanese broadcasters aired footage of officials sifting through rubble in a badly scorched building.
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