A Brief History
On June 8, 2001, and then again on June 8, 2008, Japan was terrorized by a mass stabbing. The first occurred at an Osaka elementary school, and 7 years later the next rampage took place in Tokyo.
The first perpetrator was a mentally unbalanced man who had been a juvenile delinquent. Mamoru Takuma was known to roll cats in flammable material and light them on fire or throw them in a furnace. As a sophomore in high school he assaulted a teacher and was a drop out. His father tried to get him psychiatric help, but failed. He was arrested at least 11 times, once doing 3 years in prison for rape and had been kicked out of the Japanese Air Force for having sex with a minor. He got away with some crimes for being mentally unfit for trial.
Sometime among all these hijinks Takuma found time to marry 4 times before his killing spree. One of his several jobs was as a bus driver, from which he was fired for attacking a rider over the smell of her perfume. Finally, he got a job as an elementary school janitor, but got fired in 1999 for putting dissolved tranquilizer in the teapot of the teachers’ lounge (causing 4 to be hospitalized). Think this guy was permanently sent to the loony bin? Not yet!
Sent to a psychiatric hospital, he jumped off the roof trying to kill himself (failed) and was released in a month supposedly able to take care of himself. He got a job as a taxi driver, which he lost for breaking a bellhop’s nose, and was kicked out of multiple apartments for throwing garbage off the balconies. Signing himself in at another psychiatric hospital, he left after 1 day. Two weeks later he went to the elementary school and began stabbing people, killing 8 and wounding 15, although he was wrestled into submission by staff members within minutes.
This time, the authorities somehow thought he was fit for trial and he was convicted of all charges and sentenced to death in 2003. One year later, still unrepentant and saying he wished he had used gasoline to kill more people, Takuma was hanged.
On June 8, 2008, our other villain, Tomohiro Kato, drove a truck into a crowd of strangers at a street crossing, killing 3 and injuring 2 others. Kato then jumped from the truck and began stabbing and slashing people, until 12 had been sliced open. Of the 12 stabbed, 4 died. “I will kill people in Akhabara” was the chilling message this loser had posted on the internet 20 minutes prior to the attack. Kato also went on about having no girlfriend, no friends at all, and said he was ugly. He had been a poor student and was harshly punished by his parents. About to lose his job, he went on his rampage, killing 7 total strangers. The media called it the Akhabara Massacre, and witnesses that videoed the tragedy posted it on the internet.
Like Takuma, Kato was sentenced to death and awaits execution. Both of these murderers displayed signs of mental illness and could probably have benefited from intense psychiatric therapy, but the system in Japan failed them and failed to protect their citizens. In the United States, it seems most mass murderers are likewise troubled people that are lost in society and receive no meaningful help. Will clearly deranged people continue to be allowed to walk among us like a ticking time bomb. What do you think?
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For more in Japanese murderers, please see…
Webb, William. Murder Under the Rising Sun: 15 Japanese Serial Killers That Terrified a Nation. Absolute Crime, 2013.