Sagamihara stabbings

Sagamihara stabbings
LocationMidori Ward, Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates35°36′49″N 139°12′47″E / 35.61361°N 139.21306°E / 35.61361; 139.21306
Date26 July 2016 (2016-07-26)
02:30 – 03:00 (UTC+09:00)
TargetTsukui Yamayuri En care facility
Attack type
Mass stabbing, mass murder
WeaponsKnives
Deaths19
Non-fatal injuries
26 (13 severe)[1]
Suspected perpetrator
Satoshi Uematsu[2]
MotiveHatred of Disabled People

The Sagamihara stabbings were committed on 26 July 2016 in Midori Ward, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan. Nineteen people were killed and twenty-six others were injured, thirteen severely, at a care home for disabled people.[1][3] The suspect was a 26-year-old man, identified as Satoshi Uematsu (植松 聖, Uematsu Satoshi), a former employee of the care facility.[4] Uematsu surrendered at a nearby police station with a bag of knives and was subsequently arrested.[2][3][5] The attack was described as one of the worst crimes committed on Japanese soil in modern history.[4]

Location[]

Sagamihara stabbings is located in Kanagawa Prefecture
Tsukui Yamayuri En
Tsukui Yamayuri En
Location of Tsukui Yamayuri En within Kanagawa Prefecture

Tsukui Lily Garden (津久井やまゆり園, Tsukui Yamayuri En) is a residential care center run by Kanagawa Kyodokai (社会福祉法人かながわ共同会, Shakai Fukushi Hōjin Kanagawa Kyōdōkai), a social welfare organization.[6] Established by the local government, the facility was built in a 30,890 square metres (7.63 acres) area of woodland on the bank of the Sagami River.[7][8] As of the end of April, the facility housed 149 residents between the ages of 19 and 75, all of whom had an intellectual disability but many with various physical disabilities as well. Some are capable of engaging in physical activities outdoors, while others are bedridden.[4][8][9][10] The facility is located in a remote location about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Sagamiko Station on the Chūō Main Line.[11]

Attack[]

At about 02:10, Satoshi Uematsu allegedly used a hammer to break into the care center through a glass window on the first floor. He tied up a staff member, took their keys, and then went from room to room, stabbing the victims in their necks as they slept.[4][12] Police were called to the care center by staff members at around 02:30 local time, reporting a man with a knife breaking into the building. However, Uematsu left the premises before being apprehended; he was recorded leaving the facility at 02:50 in security camera footage.[13]

Armed police entered the building at around 03:00 where they discovered the crime scene.[2] Twenty-nine ambulances were sent to the facility.[14] The suspect turned himself in at the Tsukui Police Station two hours after the incident with a bag containing kitchen knives and other bloodstained sharp tools.[3][8] A knife was reportedly found in his car outside the police station.[12]

Uematsu allegedly killed ten women and nine men aged between 18 and 70[4] and injured 26 more, 13 severely.[1][3][7][15][16]

Suspect[]

Satoshi Uematsu (植松 聖, Uematsu Satoshi), born in 1990, was a 26-year-old male at the time of the incident and used to work at the care home Tsukui Yamayuri En.[2][17] His father was an elementary school art teacher, and Uematsu had trained and worked as an elementary school teacher as well. He had lived in his house with his parents, but they moved away at some point and he remained there alone.[18] He resigned from working at the facility in February 2016 after having been employed there for over three years.[19]

Neighbors expressed surprise that he had allegedly committed the murders; he was described as a friendly, outgoing and good man. However, some reported that his personality had undergone a change at some point during his employment at the facility.[20][21][22]

Letter and statements[]

In February 2016, Uematsu attempted to hand-deliver a letter to Tadamori Oshima, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan, at Oshima's home in Tokyo but was prevented from doing so by security. He returned the following day and this time left the letter with the security guards.[20] Uematsu's letter appealed for the legalization of ending the lives of those with multiple disabilities in cases where it was requested by their guardians, and asked for Oshima's assistance in delivering his message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In it, he wrote, "I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanised, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities."[23] He also wrote that the killings of the disabled would be "for the sake of Japan and world peace" as well as to benefit the global economy and prevent World War III.[2][24][dead link]

After signing his name, the letter proceeded to detail an offer to target two facilities housing the disabled (possibly a reference to the two residential buildings in which he later committed the crime), and went on to appeal for certain conditions in exchange for committing the act. In the first half of the message, Uematsu said he could kill 460 people; however, in the second half, the number he gave was 260. He added that staff would be tied up to keep them from interfering but that they would not be harmed, the act would be swift, and that afterwards he would turn himself in. At the end of the latter half of the letter, he signed his name again, this time with his address, telephone number, and the name of his employer.[24]

At some point, the letter was handed over to Tokyo police, who contacted the police in Sagamihara. During this time frame, Uematsu posted to his Twitter account that he expected he might be arrested.[21] He had previously posted tweets about Japan being ravaged by radiation poisoning and AIDS.[25]

Later that month, after his letter was brought to the attention of Sagamihara's authorities, he was arrested, detained, questioned, and then involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital for two weeks.[26] However, he was released on 2 March after doctors deemed that he was not a threat.[8][27][28][29][30]

In his letter and in statements made after turning himself in, Uematsu explained that he was "saving from unhappiness" both the severely disabled and those who he believed were burdened with maintaining their lives.[24][26]

Legal proceedings[]

On 20 February 2017, Uematsu was found mentally competent to stand trial.[31] On 24 February, Uematsu was charged with 19 counts of murder, 24 counts of attempted murder, two counts of illegal confinement causing injury, three counts of illegal confinement, one count of unlawful entry, and one count of violating the swords and firearms control law.[32]

Reactions[]

Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, acknowledged that the attack was "a very heart-wrenching and shocking incident in which many innocent people became victims".[2][7] He also said that the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare would investigate ways to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.[1]

A number of Japanese news outlets ran orials calling the stabbings a hate crime.[33][34][35][36] By September 2016, little information had been released about the victims of the attack. Reuters wrote that this was due to Japanese culture and stigma being less accepting of physically and cognitively impaired persons.[37]

On 13 September 2016, the governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, Yuji Kuroiwa, said the facility would be rebuilt.[38]

See also[]

References[]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f "Japan Sagamihara knife attack: At least 19 dead, reports say". BBC News. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
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  4. ^ a b c d e McCurry, Justin (25 July 2016). "Japan knife attack: 19 killed and dozens wounded in stabbing". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
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  38. ^ やまゆり園建て替えへ 再生に向け本格始動 Archived 14 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine.