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Horrific killing, threats of more stun Japan

letters June 7, 1997
Web posted at: 2:50 p.m. EDT (1850 GMT)

From Correspondent Joie Chen

KOBE, Japan (CNN) -- It is a crime that has staggered and stunned Japan. And Saturday, the utter cruelty came crashing home for the Japanese in the form of taunting, boasting letters by a person claiming responsibility for the beheading of a local schoolboy.

In a letter splashed across the front page of the Kobe newspaper, the writer calls the killing a game -- and vows to kill again.

"I am putting my life at stake for the sake of this game," the letter reads. "If I'm caught, I'll probably be hanged ... police should be angrier and more tenacious in pursuing me."

-- Letter-writer in newspaper who claims to be the killer

The letter-writer claims responsibility for the killing of 11-year old Jun Hase -- and police believe the notes are authentic because they match a note found in the mouth of the mentally handicapped schoolboy.


In Kobe, playgrounds are empty. The young are closely guarded, and the police are seemingly everywhere. And the apparent killer could not be happier.

An army of investigators is assigned to the case, but few can be considered well-prepared for a horrific killing like this.

The letters may offer the best insights into the mind of a killer.

One excerpt says, "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."


And the letter -- signed with the Chinese characters for a rose and a devil -- warns the media that they could provoke more killings.

"From now on, if you misread my name or spoil my mood I will kill three vegetables (an apparent reference to people) a week," a letter reads. "If you think I can only kill children, you are greatly mistaken."

The letter also seems to blame Japan's rigid education system with creating a killer -- a self-described "invisible man."


"The thing about the Japanese educational system is that it is highly regimented, highly disciplined," the letter says. "It is very conformist and people that don't fit in are routinely bullied."

It's hard to say whether one person's shattered youth inspired the killing of an innocent schoolboy. But for this ancient society unaccustomed to such random violence, this crime has come to represent an innocence lost for all.

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