Japan has executed a 39-year-old man Tomohiro Kato who killed seven people in Tokyo in 2008 during a stabbing.
Tomohiro Kato committed one of the most shocking mass killings in the country’s recent history.
He was 25 when a truck crashed into a crowd of pedestrians during lunch in the Akihabara shopping district, killing three people. He then stabbed passersby with a dagger, killing four and wounding eight.
He was arrested by the police at the scene and later admitted to his crimes during the trial, saying he was angered by the online bullying.
The crime sparked much discussion in Japanese society at the time about random killings, online flu, and mental health failures of young people.
In response, the laws on possession of knives were also tightened.
On Tuesday, eight years after Kato’s death sentence, the government confirmed that it had ordered his execution.
“The case was fully tried in the courts and the final conclusion of the courts was the death penalty … I exercised the utmost care in handling this case,” Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa said at a news conference. The attack happened during a busy shopping weekend in central Tokyo
Kato was hanged at the Tokyo Detention Center. In 2015, he lost his appeal to commute the sentence in the Supreme Court of Japan. Kato told police upon his arrest, “I came to Akihabara to kill people. It doesn’t matter who I killed.”
Kato was born into a wealthy family and graduated from a top-notch high school. But he failed the college entrance exam and then fought for a permanent job. During the trial, prosecutors also painted a picture of a troubled young man who had posted his anger and alienation from society multiple times on online forums.
Prosecutors said Kato was particularly disheartened after a woman he chatted with online stopped sending him an email.
On his way to town on the day of the attack, he had stated that he intended to commit mass murder. The Tokyo court, which sentenced him in 2011, said his brutal crime did not indicate “an iota of humanity”.
Japan remains one of the few developed countries to still use the death penalty, despite criticism from international and local human rights groups. Three people were hanged last December. Kato’s case is the first execution in the country this year.
More than 100 inmates are still on death row.
Furukawa defended the use of the death penalty in his country on Tuesday, saying: “Since there is no end to heinous crimes, I regret that death sentences remain necessary. Therefore, the abolition of the penalty is not appropriate.”.
Japan resumed executions when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took power in late 2021. The country had previously not carried out any executions for two years.