TOKYO (AP) _ A man drove a van to a police station in central Japan today with the strangled bodies of four people he told police he had killed: his mother, his wife, and their two children.

Yasuo Takeda, a 52-year-old former bar owner, told police he tried to kill himself by cutting his wrist after he strangled all four, said Gifu-Minami police official Yasunori Maeda.

Takeda said he killed his 80-year-old mother, a 6-year-old son, a 4-year-old daughter and his 38-year-old wife in that order in the van while parked alongside a river on Saturday night, Maeda said. Takeda took the bodies to the Gifu-Minami police station in Gifu city, 170 miles west of Tokyo, police said.

``I am saddled with a debt of 25 million yen ($230,000),'' Maeda quoted Takeda as telling police. Takeda, now unemployed, was arrested, Maeda said.

According to National Police Agency records, 1,265 murders occurred in Japan in 1999. That murder rate per capita is far lower than in many other developed countries.

Cases of suicide, meanwhile, have increased to record levels in recent years. Experts blame the trend in part on Japan's economic downturn.