Murderpedia

 

 

Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

home

last updates

MALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   

FEMALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 

Seito SAKAKIBARA

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Real name:
Shinichirou Azuma
 
A.K.A.: "The Kobe School Killer"
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14) - Beheading - Mutilation
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: March 16/May 24, 1997
Date of arrest: June 28, 1997
Date of birth: July 7, 1982
Victims profile: Ayaka Yamashita, 10 / Jun Hase, 11
Method of murder: Bludgeoned to death with a steel pipe / Strangulation
Location: Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
Status: Sent to the special medical reformatory for juvenile offenders in Fuchu, western Tokyo, in October 1997. Released on March 11, 2004
 
 

 
 

photo gallery

 
 

 
 

Seito Sakakibara (酒鬼薔薇 聖斗 Sakakibara Seito) is the alias of a then-14-year-old student from Kobe, Japan who murdered an 11-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl between March and May 1997. Also identified as Onibara (due to an error in reporting by the Japanese media), his real name has not been released to the press as per Japanese legal procedures prohibiting the identification of juvenile offenders, and he is officially referred to as "Boy A" in Japanese legal documentation.

Early life

Sakakibara began carrying cutting weapons while still in elementary school, writing in his diary that "I can ease my irritation when I'm holding a survival knife or spinning scissors like a pistol." At age 12, he exhibited extreme cruelty to animals, lining up a row of frogs in a street and riding over them with his bicycle, as well as mutilating cats and decapitating pigeons.

After the March 16 attack, he wrote in his diary: "I carried out sacred experiments today to confirm how fragile human beings are... I brought the hammer down, when the girl turned to face me. I think I hit her a few times but I was too excited to remember." The following week, on March 23, he added: "This morning my mom told me, 'Poor girl. The girl attacked seems to have died.' There is no sign of my being caught... I thank you, "Bamoidōkishin", for this... Please continue to protect me."

The murders

On May 27, 1997, the head of Jun Hase (ca. 1986 - May 27, 1997), a student at Tainohata Elementary School, was found in front of the school gate hours before students arrived for classes. Hase had apparently been beheaded with a knife, with further mutilations being done before being left at the front. A note, written in red pen, was found stuffed in his mouth, identifying the killer as "Sakakibara." The note read:

"This is the beginning of the game... You police guys stop me if you can... I desperately want to see people die, it is a thrill for me to commit murder. A bloody judgment is needed for my years of great bitterness."

Additionally, some English was on the note as well: "shooll [sic] kill".

Police commented that the style of Hase's killing and the note was reminiscent of that of the Zodiac murders in the San Francisco area during the late 1960s.

Other letters and "Onibara"

On June 6, a letter was sent to the newspaper Kobe Shimbun, in which Sakakibara claimed responsibility for the slaying and decapitation of Jun Hase, and threatened that more killings would follow. This second letter, delivered in a brown envelope postmarked June 3, had no return address or name.

Enclosed was a three-page, 1400-word letter, also written in red ink, which included a six-character name which can be pronounced as "Sakakibara Seito." The same characters, which mean alcohol, devil, rose, saint and fight, were used in the first message that was inserted into the boy's mouth.

Beginning with the phrase of "Now, it's the beginning of a game," the letter stated that "I am putting my life at stake for the sake of this game...If I'm caught, I'll probably be hanged...police should be angrier and more tenacious in pursuing me.... It's only when I kill that I am liberated from the constant hatred that I suffer and that I am able to attain peace. It is only when I give pain to people that I can ease my own pain." The letter also lashed out against the Japanese educational system, calling it "compulsory education which formed me, an invisible person."

In the initial panic, the Japanese media misreported the name as "Onibara" - Demon's Rose, though the killer insisted it was as he gave it. Infuriated by the mixup, Sakakibara later wrote to the station, "From now on, if you misread my name or spoil my mood I will kill three vegetables a week.... If you think I can only kill children you are greatly mistaken."

A 14-year-old junior high school student was arrested as a suspect in the Hase murder on June 28. Shortly after his arrest, "Boy A" also confessed to the murder of 10-year-old Ayaka Yamashita on March 16, as well as assaulting three other girls on and around that same date.

Analysis

The personality profile of Sakakibara is seen to be a classic case of hikikomori syndrome. In an analysis of the case, journalist Gamal Nkrumah wrote:

The worst thing about the Sakakibara case is that one might have seen it coming. Yet neither his family nor Japan heeded the tell-tale signs. Japanese children are confronted with an extremely difficult examination at the tender age of six. Their performance effectively determines their whole future, for it decides whether they will go to a good elementary school, or one of the despised state schools.

Parents have no faith in the state system, and Sakakibara's mother was no exception. She pressured her first-born to excel at school, even though social workers warned her that her son was mentally unstable. He was already torturing and killing young animals as a 'hobby'. Soon after, he began physically attacking girls as he walked to school.

Parallels to Tsutomu Miyazaki

In addition to the hikikomori angle, analysts and psychologists have found a number of disturbing similarities to serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki. Like the 1989 "Otaku Murderer," Sakakibara was apparently set on a violent path from the very beginning. He began carrying cutting weapons while still in elementary school, writing in his diary that "I can ease my irritation when I'm holding a survival knife or spinning scissors like a pistol." At age 12 he exhibited extreme cruelty to animals, lining up a row of frogs in a street and riding over them with his bicycle, as well as mutilating cats and decapitating pigeons.

After the March 16 attack, he wrote in his diary: "I carried out sacred experiments today to confirm how fragile human beings are... I brought the hammer down, when the girl turned to face me. I think I hit her a few times but I was too excited to remember." The following week, on March 23, he added: "This morning my mom told me, 'Poor girl. The girl attacked seems to have died.' There is no sign of my being caught...I thank you, God Bamoidōki, for this... Please continue to protect me."

Additionally, a search of Sakakibara's room turned up thousands of H manga volumes and pornographic videos and anime, enough so that Japanese politician Shizuka Kamei called for restricting objectionable content, stating, "Movies lacking any literary or educational merit made for just showing cruel scenes... Adults should be blamed for this," and that "[t]he incident gives adults the chance to rethink the policy of self-imposed restrictions on these films and whether they should allow them just because they are profitable."

Aftermath

In 2000, the Diet lowered the age for criminal responsibility from 16 to 14 as a result of the Sakakibara murders. However, in the wake of the June 1, 2004 murder of Satomi Mitarai by 11-year-old "Girl A" (AKA Nevada-tan), there has been some discussion for the need for further revision.

On March 11, 2004, in an unprecedented act, the Japanese Ministry of Justice announced that Sakakibara, 21 at the time, was being released on a provisional basis, with a full release to follow on January 1, 2005. Critics have charged that since the government had taken the unusual step of notifying the public, that Sakakibara was likely not fit for release and should be transferred to prison. In the wake of the Nevada-tan murder, three months later, this criticism was exacerbated.

Due to the seriousness of the crimes and that they were committed as a minor, his name and new residence to this day remain a highly-guarded secret. Yet, his real name has been circulated on the internet since June 29, 1997, according to journalist Fumihiko Takayama.

Controversy

A number of people, including Shōjirō Gotō (a lawyer who dealt with many false accusation cases), Hidehiko Kumagai and Nobuyoshi Iwata (former principal of the junior high school that Boy A attended), insist that Boy A was wrongfully accused and point out contradictions in the statements of the investigating authorities.

Wikipedia.org


Kobe killer set free

Reformatory parolee 'has grown up'

The Japan Times: Thursday, March 11, 2004

Compiled from wire, staff reports

A 21-year-old man who strangled and decapitated a boy and bludgeoned a girl to death when he was 14 in one of Japan's most notorious juvenile crimes was paroled Wednesday, having spent more than six years at a medical reformatory, the Justice Ministry announced.

Authorities provisionally released the man from the institute in suburban Tokyo after he completed rehabilitation and education programs.

The offender was in his third year in junior high school when he committed the two murders and wounded three other children in Kobe in 1997.

A three-member panel of the Kanto Regional Parole Board accepted the request for parole, filed in March 2003.

Tetsuo Obata, chairman of the parol board, told reporters that the board judged he has been rehabilitated to a desirable level and should be released so he can make a smooth return to society.

"The board has interviewed the man on various occasions and closely examined his correctional state," Obata said. "(We) came to conclude that psychiatric care and correctional education at reformatories have obtained good results."

To help the man proceed with rehabilitation in society until his detention term expires at the end of December, the board has selected a place where he will live and mapped out plans for his daily life, Obata said.

The place of residence will not be released so he can quietly obtain work and become able to support himself, Obata said.

The man's name likewise will be withheld because he was a minor at the time of the crimes.

Obata said the government announced his release in response to public interest in the crimes he committed.

"Considering the peculiar and grave nature of his crimes, we thought public cooperation for his rehabilitation is essential," Obata figured.

The killer was sent to the special medical reformatory for juvenile offenders in Fuchu, western Tokyo, in October 1997 to receive psychiatric treatment and counseling. He was transferred to an ordinary reformatory in November 2001 to learn some social skills, before returning to the medical reformatory in November 2002.

He killed 10-year-old Ayaka Yamashita in March 1997 and attacked three other schoolgirls in February and March that year.

On May 24, 1997, he killed and then decapitated 11-year-old Jun Hase, leaving the head outside a school gate.

He sent a letter to the Kobe Shimbun claiming responsibility for the murder under the name of Seito Sakakibara. It began, "Now, it's the beginning of a game."

Sources close to the case said the man has read notes written by the victims' families and has said he would like to find a job to pay them compensation. The sources quoted him as saying he would not forget the severity of his crimes and would like to spend his life making up for them.

The man's mother released a statement through her lawyer, saying: "Our son is now doing his best to have courage to plunge into the world of anxieties and uncertainties. . . . I believe there will be a long and tough road ahead for us and our son, but if possible, I hope the public will watch over us quietly."

Lawyer Yoshikuni Noguchi, who served as the man's counselor during the juvenile trial, cautioned: "If people around him make a big fuss and put him on the spot, it would make it difficult for him to reintegrate into society.

"By realizing the value of his own life, he now feels he wants to make up for having taken people's lives. He has grown up a lot in a short period of time. I am not worried" about the possibility of repeat offenses.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims have urged the government to provide them with information on the perpetrator. Some relatives question whether he really has been rehabilitated.

Hase's father, Mamoru, 47, said in a statement after learning of the release: "The most important issue is whether he is really rehabilitated.

"I believe the man will face various difficulties after returning to society and I think it is an ordeal he deserves. The crimes he committed cannot be redeemed even with his whole life. I hope that he will not forget that and live his life bearing a heavy cross on his back."

Hase said the Justice Ministry's rare decision to provide the victim's relatives with advance information regarding the release was an improvement. Currently, such notification is only applicable in criminal cases involving adults.

Hase urged the ministry to apply it to juvenile cases as soon as possible.

In a separate statement, Yamashita's mother, Kyoko, 48, said that while she would like to believe the man has been rehabilitated, she wonders if a person who committed such brutal acts can truly be reformed in such a short time.

"Of course I have not forgiven his crimes, but I think Ayaka would hope that the man redeems his heart as a human being and lives a good life," she said. "Every time incidents involving children occur, I feel that we must question ourselves about what we adults are here for."

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi meanwhile told reporters there was probably no other choice but to release the man in order to give him a chance to rehabilitate himself.

But he said he had "mixed feelings" about the man's release when considering the sentiment of the victims' families.

This case and a series of other serious crimes committed by youths sparked a debate over how to deal with minors who commit heinous crimes, leading the Diet to revise the Juvenile Law in 2000, including lowering the age for criminal responsibility from 16 to 14.


Kobe School Killer

On May 27, 1997, a school janitor found the head of Jun Hase, an 11-year-old retarded boy who had been missing since May 24. Hase, a student at Tainohata Elementary School, had been decapitated with a sharp instrument, and in his mouth the killer stuffed a taunting message for the police.

Later that day the boy's headless body was found under a house in the woods near the school. Hase's killing is the second in that area. On March 15 a ten-year-old girl named Ayaka Yamashita was bludgeoned to death with a steel pipe a elementary school girl.

The killer had also launched at least three unsuccessful attacks on young girls in February and March. Whether Japanese authorities realized it or not they had a serial slayer on their hands.

In the note the killer warned: "This is the beginning of the game... You police guys stop me if you can... I desperately want to see people die, it is a thrill for me to commit murder. A bloody judgment is needed for my years of great bitterness." It ended with words in English, "shooll (sic) kill" and was signed in a mysterious combination of Japanese characters meaning rice wine, rose and sacred master, followed by "the school killer."

The killer also used a cross-like symbol reminiscent to the one used by San Francisco's infamous "Zodiac" killer. Similar slogans were found painted on walls near the elementary school where the head was found.

Two mutilated cats were also found outside the main gate of the junior high school where the boy's head was found before he vanished. Police sources said that mutilated cat carcasses were also found near the two other crime scenes before the attacks occurred.

On June 6 a person claiming responsibility for the beheading of the schoolboy in Kobe threatened to kill three people a week in a letter sent to a local newspaper. "I am putting my life at stake for the sake of this game,'' said the rambling 1,400-word letter, "If I'm caught, I'll probably be hanged ... police should be angrier and more tenacious in pursuing me... It's only when I kill that I am liberated from the constant hatred that I suffer and that I am able to attain peace. It is only when I give pain to people that I can ease my own pain." In broad strokes the letter also lashed out at, among other things, Japan's "compulsory education which formed me, an invisible person."

The killer signed the letter "Seito Sakakibara" (Apostle Sake Devil Rose). Strangely, the writer claimed that it was his real name, and was angered that the name "devil's rose" in his first note was interpreted as an alias. "From now on, if you misread my name or spoil my mood I will kill three vegetables a week... If you think I can only kill children you are greatly mistaken."

On June 28 a 14-year-old boy -- who turned 15 two weeks after detention -- was arrested for the Hase killing as well as the two March 15 assaults. The boy, who cannot be identified because of his age, was apparently set on a violent path from the get go. He began carrying cutting weapons while still in elementary school. "I can ease my irritation when I'm holding a survival knife or spinning scissors like a pistol."

At age 12 he exhibited extreme cruelty to animals, lining up a row of frogs in a street and riding over them with his bicycle, mutilating cats and decapitating pigeons.

The experimental type, on March 16, after the attacks on the two girls, he wrote in his diary: "I carried out sacred experiments today to confirm how fragile human beings are... I brought the hammer down, when the girl turned to face me. I think I hit her a few times but I was too excited to remember."

On March 23 he noted: "This morning my mom told me, 'Poor girl. The girl attacked seems to have died.' There is no sign of my being caught ... I thank you, God Bamoidooki, for this... Please continue to protect me." The imaginary Bamoidooki is a floating head of Buddha with a swastika-like symbol.

Japanese Construction Minister Shizuka Kamei called for restricting violent and pornographic videos after a search of the 14-year-old suspect's bedroom turned up thousands of comic books and pornographic videos. As stated by the outraged minister: "Movies lacking any literary or educational merit made for just showing cruel scenes... Adults should be blamed for this."

In Japan at that time a person under the age of sixteen could not be charged as an adult and could not be identified publicly. Instead, the boy who would become know simply as "The Kobe Killer" was sentenced to a youth reformatory for treatment. In 2003 he was judged to be "cured" of his sexual sadism and compulsion to kill.

The Kobe Killer was released on parole on March 10, 2004, and located in a different portion of the country. The Japanese government did make a pair of unusual considerations due to the extreme nature of his crimes. His release was announced to the public and the victim's families would be periodically notified of his whereabouts.

The Kobe Killer's supervised parole lasted only until December 31, 2004. It was reported that soon after he was no longer required to report to his parole officer he moved twice in quick succession and then disappeared. Even his father, who he is still close to, claims he has not heard from his son since last year and says he does not know where his son is living. With his identity sealed by the courts The Kobe Killer could be anywhere, perhaps waiting to strike again.

 

 

 
 
 
 
contact