Japan executes man over 2008 stabbing rampage
Japan on Tuesday executed a man convicted of killing seven people in a truck ramming and stabbing rampage in Tokyo's popular Akihabara electronics district in 2008, the justice ministry said.
Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa said Tomohiro Kato had undertaken "meticulous preparation" for the attack and displayed a "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."
Kato went on the stabbing spree on June 8, 2008, telling police: "I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn't matter who I'd kill."
He was arrested on the spot shortly after the attacks, in which he rammed a rented 2-ton truck into a crowd of pedestrians before getting out and randomly stabbing people.
"This is a very painful case that led to extremely grave consequences and shocked society," Furukawa said on Tuesday.
Police said Kato documented his deadly journey to Akihabara on Internet bulletin boards, typing messages on a mobile phone from behind the wheel of the truck and complaining of his unstable job and his loneliness.
The son of a banker, Kato grew up in Aomori prefecture in Japan's north, where he graduated from a top high school.
Prosecutors said Kato's self-confidence had plummeted after a woman he had chatted with online abruptly stopped e-mailing him after he sent her a photograph of himself.
His anger against the general public grew when his comments on an Internet bulletin board, including his plans to go on a killing spree, were met with no reaction at all, prosecutors said.
Support for death penalty
While awaiting trial, Kato wrote to a 56-year-old taxi driver whom he injured in the stabbing spree, expressing his remorse.
The victims "were enjoying their lives, and they had dreams, bright futures, warm families, lovers, friends and colleagues," Kato wrote according to a copy published in the Shukan Asahi weekly.
And in court, he offered remorse for the attack.
"Please let me use this occasion to apologize," he said about the bloody rampage that also left 10 people injured.
After the 2008 rampage, Japan banned possession of double-edged knives with blades longer than 5.5 centimeters, punishable by up to three years in prison or a 500,000-yen (US$3,663) fine.
The attack was Japan's worst mass killing in seven years and Kato was sentenced to death in 2011, a decision that was upheld by Japan's top court in 2015.
Kato's execution is the first in Japan this year and comes after three prisoners were hanged in December 2021. Those executions ended a two-year hiatus and were the first under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's administration.