Tomohiro Kato: Japan hangs the perpetrator of the Akihabara massacre, which shocked the country in 2008 | International
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Japan executed this Tuesday the author of a crime that shocked society. The country of the rising sun, the only member of the G-7 along with the United States that still applies capital punishment, executed Tomohiro Kato, popularly known as the Akihabara murderer, who in 2008 killed seven people and injured ten others in that bustling Tokyo neighborhood. The Ministry of Justice announced that Kato, 39, was executed by hanging at the capital’s detention center where he was imprisoned. After a two-year break, this Asian nation reinstated the application of the death penalty last December, two months after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office. After this execution, the total number of inmates waiting on death row in Japan amounts to 106.
The Minister of Justice, Yoshihisa Furukawa, informed in a press conference that, “based on the deliberation of the courts”, last Friday he signed the execution order after “an exhaustive and careful reflection”. The head of Justice has been in favor of the death penalty “for crimes that carry serious consequences” since he took office in October 2021. Furukawa asserted that Kato “meticulously prepared” the attack and showed his “firm intention to kill” in 2008. “It was a very painful case, which seriously impacted society, since it deprived seven people of their valuable lives,” he added.
On June 8, 2008, Tomohiro Kato, then 25 years old, broke into the Tokyo neighborhood of Akihabara with a rented truck, one of the places most frequented by tourists visiting the Japanese capital for being a mecca of technology, the manga and anime. That Sunday, Kato charged into the crowd on his main street—that day, closed to traffic; now, pedestrian on Sundays – and, after running over five people (of whom three died), he got out of the vehicle and stabbed a dozen passers-by, four of whom died. When he was arrested, he told the police, “I came to Akihabara to kill people. I am tired of the world. Anyone was good for me.”
The Akihabara massacre is one of Japan’s most remembered crimes. Kato was sentenced to death in 2011 by a Tokyo magistrate court, finding that he was motivated by rage. Despite the fact that the inmate showed repentance in the trials, the Supreme Court rejected in 2015 the appeal of his lawyers, who had argued that Kato was not in full control of his mental faculties at the time of the events, due to psychological stress. severe.
According to local media, Kato grew up in a wealthy family. Although he graduated from a good institute, he failed the university entrance exam and ended up training as a mechanic. According to the newspaper Japanese Times, he never had a stable job and spent hours connected to the internet, isolated from the world. After the trials it was revealed that his hatred was increasing due to the lack of repercussion of the comments he posted on online forums, where he announced that he would like to perpetrate a massacre.
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This Tuesday’s is the second execution under the mandate of Fumio Kishida, after on December 21 three prisoners convicted of murder were executed by hanging. The previous one had taken place in December 2019. Those two years that passed without the death penalty being applied coincided with the start of the covid-19 pandemic and the celebration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, originally scheduled for 2020.
Despite criticism of the use of the death penalty in many industrialized countries, the Japanese government is a strong supporter of it. Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki commented on Tuesday that “it is inevitable to impose the death penalty for heinous and serious crimes” and that “it is not appropriate” to abolish it, given that these types of crimes continue to occur. The Executive is also supported by the fact that the polls it handles indicate that “the majority of the Japanese people are in favor of the death penalty in cruel cases.”
Organizations in defense of human rights such as Amnesty International point out that the procedure in Japan is surrounded by a halo of silence and that it deprives those sentenced to death of the opportunity to reflect on their crimes. They also demand greater transparency with the calendar of executions, since they denounce that it is usual for them to be carried out by notifying those sentenced just a few hours before they take place or even without warning them.
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