TOKYO (AFP, REUTERS) - Japan on Tuesday (July 26) executed a man convicted of killing seven people in a stabbing rampage in Tokyo's popular Akihabara electronics district in 2008, local media reported.
The Justice Ministry declined to immediately confirm reports on national broadcaster NHK and other outlets that Tomohiro Kato had been executed over the attack.
On June 8, 2008, Kato ran a rented truck into a crowd of pedestrians at the busy shopping district before going on a stabbing rampage, killing seven people and injuring 10.
He told police: “I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn’t matter who I’d kill.”
He was arrested on the spot.
Police said he 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. He failed his university entrance exams and eventually trained as an auto mechanic, reports said.
Prosecutors said Kato’s self-confidence had plummeted after a woman he had chatted with online abruptly stopped emailing 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.
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.
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.
Japan is one of the few developed countries to retain the death penalty, and public support for capital punishment remains high despite international criticism, especially from rights groups.
Executions are carried out by hanging, generally long after sentencing.