Japan sentenced the man who killed 7 people in a 2008 street vandalism in Tokyo

Japan hanged a convicted man on Tuesday killing seven people In a 2008 case of crushing and stabbing a truck in Tokyo’s popular Akihabara electronics district, the Justice Ministry said.

Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa told reporters Tomohiro Kato was hanged at a Tokyo detention center early Tuesday.

Furukawa said that Tomohiro Kato had “prepared meticulously” for the attack and displayed a “strong intention to kill”.

“The death sentence in this case was finalized after due deliberations in the court,” he told reporters. “Based on this fact, I have sanctioned the execution after a very thorough investigation.”

Kato told police on June 8, 2008: “I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn’t matter who I killed.”

He was arrested on the spot soon after the attacks, in which he rammed a two-tonne hired truck into a crowd of pedestrians and randomly stabbed people before exiting.

This photo, taken by a pedestrian, shows Tomohiro Kato (R) arrested after being stabbed by policemen on a street in Tokyo’s Akihabara Electronic District on June 8, 2008.

AFP via Getty Images

“This is a very painful case that has had very serious consequences and a shock to society,” Furukawa said on Tuesday.

Surveillance footage broadcast by national broadcaster NHK after the attack showed Kato buying hunting knives two days before the attack, laughing with a store employee and sometimes stabbing him with his hands.

Police said Kato documented his fatal journey to Akihabara on internet bulletin boards, typing messages on a mobile phone from behind the wheel of a truck, and complaining of his unstable job and his loneliness.

In an online message about 20 minutes before the attack, police said Kato wrote: “It’s time.”

This image, copied from a high school album and distributed by Kyodo News, shows Tomohiro Kato, who plowed shoppers with a truck and then within minutes stabbed 17 people, at least one of them At least seven died in Tokyo on Sunday, June 8, 2008.
This image features Tomohiro Kato, copied from a high school album and distributed by Kyodo News.

AP Photo/Kyodo News

The son of a banker, Kato grew up in Aomori Prefecture in the north of Japan, where he graduated from a top high school.

prosecutors said bite confidence had fallen After chatting with a woman online he suddenly stopped emailing her after he sent her a picture of himself.

Prosecutors said his anger against the general public escalated when his comments on an Internet bulletin board, including his plans to go on a killing spree, did not elicit a response.

While awaiting trial, Kato wrote to a 56-year-old taxi driver whom he injured in a stabbing, expressing his regret.

The victims were “enjoying their lives, and they had dreams, bright futures, warm family, lovers, friends, and colleagues,” Kato wrote, according to a copy published in Shukan Asahi Weekly.

And in court, he offered remorse for the attack.

“Please let me use this opportunity to apologize,” he said of the bloody stampede in which 10 people were injured.

After the 2008 stampede, Japan banned the possession of double-edged knives with blades longer than 5.5 cm, which could carry up to three years in prison or a fine of 500,000 yen.

The attack was Japan’s largest mass murder in seven years and in 2011 Kato was sentenced to death, which was upheld by Japan’s top court in 2015.

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

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

The death sentence is usually followed by a long execution. There are currently more than 100 people on death row in Japan.

International advocacy groups have condemned the Japanese system, under which death row prisoners can wait for their execution in solitary confinement for several years and are told of their imminent death just hours ahead of time.

But Furukawa on Tuesday defended the death penalty.

He told reporters that “heinous crimes such as mass murders and dacoity-murders still occur frequently” and that the government believes that abolishing the death penalty is “not justified”.

The hanging on Tuesday comes on the anniversary of another major attack — the 2016 Sagmihara Stampede in a disabled care facility, in which 19 people were killed.

Japan also hanged Six members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult Responsible for the 1995 Sarin attack and other crimes on July 26, 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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