Japan executes man for 2008 stabbing | Death Penalty News

Japan executes man for 2008 stabbing |  Death Penalty News
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Tomohiro Kato was found guilty of killing seven people in an attack in the popular Akihabara district of Tokyo.

Japan has executed a man convicted of killing seven people in a knife attack in Tokyo’s popular Akihabara electronics district in 2008.

Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa said Tomohiro Kato had undertaken “meticulous preparation” for the attack and had shown “strong intent” to kill.

“The death sentence in this case was finalized through sufficient deliberation in court,” he told reporters.

“Based on this fact, I approved the execution after extremely thorough scrutiny.”

the June 2008 attack, which also injured 10 people, began with Kato driving a truck into a crowd. After stabbing multiple people, the then 25-year-old was arrested at the scene, telling police, “I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn’t matter who he would kill.”

Police said he documented his trip to Akihabara on Internet bulletin boards, typing messages on a mobile phone from behind the wheel of the truck and complaining about his unstable job and loneliness.

Japan’s highest court upheld Kato’s death sentence in 2015, saying “there were no grounds for leniency.” The attack was the country’s worst mass murder in seven years.

Police arrest Tomohiro Kato, wearing a beige suit and glasses, on a street in Akhibara after killing seven people in Tokyo.
Tomohiro Kato was arrested at the scene. He drove a truck into pedestrians before going on a stab [File: Jiji Press via AFP]

The son of a banker, Kato grew up in Aomori prefecture in northern Japan, where he graduated from one of the best high schools. He failed his college entrance exams and eventually trained as a car mechanic, according to reports.

Prosecutors said Kato’s self-confidence plummeted after a woman he had chatted with online abruptly stopped emailing him after he sent her a picture of himself.

His anger at the general public grew when his online comments, including his plans for a killing spree, elicited no reaction, prosecutors said.

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

The victims “enjoyed their lives and had dreams, a bright future, warm families, lovers, friends and colleagues,” Kato wrote according to a copy published in the weekly Shukan Asahi.

Kato’s execution is the first in Japan this year and comes after Three prisoners were hanged in December 2021. Those were the first executions in the country in two years.

The use of the death penalty in Japan is shrouded in secrecy. Those on death row may only learn that the sentence will be carried out a few hours before, or sometimes never, while their families are usually only notified afterward, according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty, which opposes the death penalty in all cases, says the general trend around the world remains towards Abolition of capital punishment.

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