Horrific killing, threats of more stun Japan
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
"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
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
"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
"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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