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Victim of Vancouver stabbing ID'd as upbeat cook who was 'full of life'

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Friends and co-workers have identified 32-year-old Wataru Kakiuchi as the man stabbed to death Wednesday in Vancouver.

Those who spoke to CTV News said they were shocked to learn of Kakiuchi’s killing.

The Japanese man, who came to Canada on a work permit, was a well-known cook at Hapa Izakaya starting in 2015.

Justin Ault, the owner of Hapa Izakaya's Yaletown location, described Kakiuchi as "one of those people who would light up a room," and that he "couldn't be an enemy of anybody."

Authorities said Kakiuchi was stabbed on Union Street east of Main Street early Wednesday morning.

Officers responded to a report of a man in distress around 3:30 a.m. and arrived to find Kakiuchi fatally injured. He died before he could be taken to hospital.

Hapa Izakaya closed Wednesday so staff could gather and mourn his shocking death.

“Your colleagues are family members, but especially in hospitality you really get close to people,” Ault said.

Kakiuchi was between work permits when he died, according to Ault, but had planned to return to the restaurant. He had expressed a desire to remain in Canada permanently as well.

Ault said Kakiuchi was also a musician who would pull his guitar out after getting off work.

“He was just positive – full of life, energy,” said Ault.

Police have yet to determine a motive behind the killing.

On Thursday, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim issued a statement offering condolences to the victim's family and friends, describing Kakiuchi as a "beloved member of our city.”

“Wataru Kakiuchi was more than a talented cook at Hapa Izakaya in Yaletown – he was a positive presence and a cherished friend to many. His contributions to our community will not be forgotten," Sim wrote.

The mayor also offered assurances that police are “working tirelessly to bring the person responsible for this tragedy to justice," and have increased patrols in the neighbourhood where Kakiuchi was killed.

Anyone with information or dash-cam video from the area taken between midnight and 3:30 a.m. Wednesday is asked to call the Vancouver Police Department at 604-717-2500.

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