Japan hangs man who stabbed in Tokyo mall in 2008

Tomohiro Kato, a 39-year-old man who killed seven people in Tokyo in 2008, was hanged at the request of the Japanese government on Tuesday morning.

Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa told reporters that Kato was hanged at the Tokyo Detention Center.

“The case was fully judged by the courts and the final conclusion of the courts was the death sentence…I have taken the utmost care in reviewing this case,” Furukawa said as quoted by the BBC.

Kato was 25 when he drove a truck into pedestrians in the Akihabara shopping district on June 8 and then launched into a series of stabbings, killing seven people and injuring 10.

He was later arrested by police on the spot and at his trial he admitted to his crimes saying he was enraged by online bullying.

“I came to Akihabara to kill people. It doesn’t matter who I kill,” Kato told police when he was arrested.

In 2011 Kato was sentenced to death, and he was later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015, which overturned his plea to commute the sentence.

The crime sparked a massive debate in Japan at the time, as concerns were raised about online influence over random killings and the failure to put in place effective mental health support for young people. Officials had also tightened knife possession laws in response.

Reportedly, Kato comes from a wealthy family and was one of the top students in high school. However, he failed his college entrance exams and struggled to hold down a steady job afterwards.

During his trial, prosecutors called Kato a troubled young man, who had repeatedly posted in online forums about his anger and alienation from society.

Local reports said Kato was particularly demoralized after a woman he was chatting with online stopped emailing him.

Abandoned by rejection, he declared his intent to commit mass murder.

(With agency contributions)


Edwin S. Wolfe