Japan Executes Man After 2008 Knife Rampage » Capital News

Seven people were killed in the 2008 truck rampage and stabbings © JIJI PRESS/AFP/File/STR

Tokyo (AFP), July 26 – Japan on Tuesday executed a man convicted of killing seven people in a truck that rammed and stabbed Tokyo’s working-class Akihabara district in 2008, the justice ministry said.

Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa said Tomohiro Kato undertook “meticulous preparation” for the attack and displayed a “strong intent to kill”.

Furukawa said he “approved the execution after extremely careful consideration”, noting that Kato’s death sentence had been upheld by the court system.

Kato went on a rampage on June 8, 2008, telling police, “I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn’t matter who I killed.

He was arrested at the scene shortly after the attacks, during which he rammed a two-tonne rental truck into a crowd of pedestrians before getting out and stabbing random people.

“This is a very painful case that has resulted in extremely serious consequences and shocked society,” Furukawa said on Tuesday.

Police say Kato documented his murderous trip to Akihabara on internet bulletin boards, typing messages on a cellphone from behind the wheel of the truck and complaining about his unstable job and loneliness.

Prosecutors said his confidence plummeted after a woman he had been chatting with online abruptly stopped emailing him when he sent her a photo of himself.

His anger with the general public grew when his comments on an internet message board, including his intent to go on a killing spree, elicited no response, prosecutors said.

While awaiting trial, Kato wrote to a 56-year-old taxi driver he injured in the series of stabbings, expressing remorse.

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The victims “enjoyed their lives and had dreams, a bright future, warm families, lovers, friends and colleagues,” Kato wrote according to a copy published in the weekly Shukan Asahi.

And in court, he offered remorse for the attack.

“Please let me take this opportunity to apologise,” he said of the bloody rampage which also left 10 injured.

– Support for the death penalty –

On July 26, 2022, Japan executed a man convicted of killing seven people in a stabbing attack in Tomohiro Kato was convicted of killing seven people in the electronic district of Akihabara in Tokyo in 2008 © JIJI PRESS/AFP/Dossier / JIJI PRESS

After the 2008 rampage, Japan banned possession of double-edged knives with blades longer than 5.5 centimeters (about two inches), punishable by up to three years in prison or a $500,000 fine. yen.

The attack was Japan’s worst mass shooting in seven years and Kato was sentenced to death in 2011, a decision that was upheld by Japan’s highest court in 2015.

Kato’s execution is the first in Japan this year and comes after the hanging of three prisoners in December 2021. The executions ended a two-year hiatus and were the first under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration.

Japan is one of the few developed countries to retain the death penalty, and public support for capital punishment remains high despite international criticism.

Executions are carried out by hanging, usually long after sentencing. More than 100 people are currently on death row in Japan.

International pressure groups have denounced the Japanese system, under which death row inmates can await their execution for many years in solitary confinement and are only informed of their impending death a few hours in advance.

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But Furukawa defended the death penalty on Tuesday.

The government believes it is “not appropriate” to abolish capital punishment, given that “heinous crimes such as massacres and robbery-murders still repeatedly occur”, he said to journalists.

Junichi Kuwabara, a 54-year-old Tokyo resident, told AFP he was thinking about “how the families of the victims must be feeling”.

“I think it would have been better if it had been done earlier,” he said.

And while he expressed discomfort with the idea of ​​the death penalty, he said “if it can bring justice to the loved ones of the victims, I think that’s good”.

Tuesday’s execution comes on the anniversary of another major stabbing attack – the 2016 Sagamihara rampage at a disability care facility, in which 19 people were killed.

Japan also executed six members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect responsible for the 1995 sarin attack and other crimes on July 26, 2018.