Akihabara murderer caught on tape
buying his weapons
Between 1972 and 1977 Kiyota Katsuta, strangled five women in their 20s and 30s after sneaking into their homes to rob them. Before 1984 he shot three others to death while committing robberies using a handgun he seized from a police officer. He was sentenced to death and executed in 2000.

In January 1948, in what is known as the Teijin Incident in Japan, a man walked into a branch of the Teikoku Bank, near Ikebukuro in Tokyo, claimed he was a government officials in charge of giving out a drug to combat dysentery. He gave out the drug to employees at he bank. Within 10 minutes 10 people were dead. Two others died at the hospital. In 1950, a man named Sadamichi Hirasawa was sentenced to death for the crime but he was never executed and died in prison of natural causes u May 1987. Many thunk that Hirasawa didn’t commit the crime, which have been linked to Unit 731, the notorious World War II research center in China where prisoners were used as guinea pigs in shockingly cruel experiments.

Good Websites and Sources: Wikipedia List of Serial Killers by Country Wikipedia ; Wikipedia article on Tsutomu Miyazaki Wikipedia ; Cannibal Issei Sagawa francesfarmersrevenge.com ; Issei Sagawa Story on TruTV.com trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers ; BBC Report on Lucie Blackman’s Murderer bbc.co.uk ; Blog Report on the Akihabara Killer xorsyst.com/japan/tomohiro-kato ; Dismemberment Crimes on the Rise associatedcontent.com

Links in this Website: CRIME IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; THEFTS AND ROBBERIES IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; JUVENILE CRIME IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; FAMOUS MURDERS IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; FAMOUS MURDERS IN JAPAN INVOLVING CHILDREN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; YAKUZA AND ORGANIZED CRIME IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; YAKUZA ACTIVITIES AND VIOLENCE Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; AUM SHINROKYO CULT AND THE TOKYO SUBWAY SARIN GAS ATTACK Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; SECURITY, GUNS AND POLICE IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; LEGAL SYSTEM IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; DEATH PENALTY AND PRISON IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan

Miyazaki Serial Murders

In April 1997,Tsutomu Miyazaki was sentenced to death for "brutally murdering" four girls, between the ages 4 and 7, in 1988 and 1989 in Tokyo and nearby Saitama "to satisfy his sexual appetite." Miyazaki had deformed hands and a tragic family life and possessed a collection of 6,000 animated, horror and pornographic videos, some with young girls.

In August 1988, 26-year-old Miyazaki lured a four-year-old girl into his car, drove her to a wooded area, strangled her, and sexually assaulted her corpse. Five months later he burned the body, ate some of the ashes and deposited the rest of her remains in a box in front of her parents house. In October and November 1988, he abducted and strangled a 4-year-old girl and 7-year-old girl. In June 1989, he abducted a 5-year-old girl, strangled her and mutilated her, ate her wrists and drank her blood. He wrote letters to victim's families signed with a pseudonym, claiming responsibility for the crimes.

Miyazaki carried out the murders in a room filled with horror and pornographic video tapes. Among the tapes were videos of his victims. He used the female pseudonym, Yuko Imada to write letters claiming responsibility for the crime to newspapers and the victim’s family. Attached to the letters to newspapers were photos of the victim’s bodies.

Miyazaki's lawyers tried to use the insanity plea to avoid a death sentence. Miyazaki provided graphic details of the murders and blamed his actions on "rat people" and "a man who enjoys forcing me to do things I don't want to do." In the end the judges decided that although he was weird he was sane enough to realize that what he was doing was wrong and he was sentenced to death. In 2001, a court upheld the death penalty.

Miyazaki was executed in June 2008, 20 years after he committed his first murder and two years and four months after his death sentence was finalized. Unrepentant to the end, he never apologized to the families of his victims or attempted to explain why he did what he did.

Curry, Money Tree and Golf Ball Murders

In July 1998, Masumi Hayashi, a woman living in Wakayama, killed four people, including a small boy, and injured 63 by serving them curry spiked with arsenic at a neighborhood gathering. The motivation was unknown. Between 1985 and 1998 she and her husband collected more than $8.2 million in insurance claims, some of them on life insurance policies on people that died. Hayashi said nothing in her trial. She was sentenced to death and her death sentence was upheld by a higher court in 2005. In May 2009, her death sentence was finalized.

In the 1990s a man murdered two prostitutes by placing golf balls in their mouths and strangling them. He was caught after he tried to kill several other women in the same way after demanding tohave sex with them.

In the late 1990s, Futoshi Matsunaga a man from Kitakyushi and his common-law wife killed seven people, including the woman’s own father and mother and four other relatives. One of the victims was a 34-year-old man who lived at their house and was tortured before he died. Matsunaga admitted abusing the victims but denied killing them because they were his “money tree.” The common-law wife, Junko Ogata, admitted that she carried out the murders.

The victims were abused and confined and welfare payments and other sources of money in their name were seized by Matsunaga and Ogata. The victims were finally killed when it deemed there was no way to make money from them anymore. The murders came to light in March 2002 when a teenage girl confined at Matsunaga and Ogata’s apartment escaped and told police. No remains of the victims were ever found. Matsunaga and Ogata are suspected of dismembering the bodies and dumping the remains in the sea.

Kijima Boyfriend Murders

In September 2009, a 35-year-old Tokyo woman named Kanae Kijima was arrested in connection with suspicious deaths of at least four men whose death she appeared to have profited from. One man, a 41-year-old company employee named Yoshiyuki Oide, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a car caused by breathing in fumes from charcoal briquettes, and was found to have a sleep-inducing drugs in his system. Another victim, an 80-year-old man whom the woman met through a dating website, died in a fire that broke out in his house. On the day of the fire the woman used the 80-year-old man’s ATM card to withdraw money. The two other victims tied to Kijima were a 70-year-old man and 53-year-old man. One gave her ¥60 million in cash.

The day before his death Oide wrote in one of his blogs. “At 41, I’m actually looking to get married, and today I’ll meet my partner’s family...Recently, we’ve spent all our time looking for a new place to live and talking about a new life together.” He posted pictures of sweets he planned to give to the woman’s parents.” Police began to look at the case as a potential murder after seeing these postings. “It’s clear the man was not in a frame of mind to prepare briquettes and commit suicide,” an investigator told the Yomiuri Shimbun. It was also discovered that the Kijima bought a large amount of charcoal briquettes on the Internet before the man’s death.

Kijima was known for her expensive tastes that ranged from expensive cooking classes and restaurants to frequent beauty parlor visits for herself and her small dogs. She had been arrested before for Internet fraud in 2003 and defaulted on her rent in 2006. She had no permanent job but is thought to have recived more than $1 million from men she had contact with, some met through Internet dating sites. At the time of arrest she had little money in her savings account even though she recently received about $50,000 from Oide.

April 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “The Saitama District Court handed down the death sentence to Kanae Kijima, 37, for murdering three men and making it appear as they committed suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning. "[The defendant] was motivated by greed and personal benefit and there is no room for extenuating circumstances," presiding Judge Kazuyuki Okuma said. Kijima was tried under the lay judge system on murder and other charges. The prosecutors had sought the death sentence. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, April 14, 2012]

In the three cases, there was no concrete evidence, and the prosecutors provided circumstantial evidence such as records of Kijima's purchases of charcoal and sleeping pills. In the ruling, the judges accepted all the evidence and concluded that the incidents were serial killings.The ruling said that Kijima killed Takao Terada, a 53-year-old company employee in Ome, Tokyo; Kenzo Ando, an 80-year-old unemployed man in Noda, Chiba Prefecture; and Yoshiyuki Oide, a 41-year-old company employee in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, between January and August 2009. Kijima gave them sleeping pills and started charcoal fires in their room or car, causing the men to die of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the ruling. The ruling found Kijima guilty of all 10 counts filed against her, including fraud.

Regarding Terada's death, the ruling concluded that Kijima was the perpetrator, noting that the manufacturer of the charcoal and the amount found at the crime scene were identical to the charcoal she had purchased. In Ando's death, the ruling cited the charcoal Kijima had obtained before the incident proved she was the perpetrator. In the Oide murder, the ruling noted that Kijima took a taxi home from the parking lot in Saitama Prefecture where Oide died. It said this was enough to narrow down the perpetrator as Kijima.

Explaining the sentence, the presiding judge said: "The defendant committed three murders in about six months. It's remarkable that she treated lives so lightly. She committed the crimes to evade repaying money she had received to maintain her luxurious lifestyle." Her lawyers have appealled the ruling. They had insisted she was not guilty, maintaining that Terada and Oide had killed themselves and Ando might have died from a fire resulting from his failure to put out a cigarette. In the trial, the lay judges served 100 days from their appointments on Jan. 5, the longest stint since the lay judge system was inaugurated.

Kijima openly spoke in detail about her relationships with the men at her trial, but the court dismissed her statements as "irrational." During questioning--which lasted about 52 hours over 11 days--Kijima told the court details of how she became acquainted with one of the men via a matchmaking website. However, the court ruled her statements "irrational excuses for her own benefit.”

Although Kijima admitted she had asked the men for money, she claimed her relationships with them were serious. As for Terada, Kijima said she tried to break up with him, telling him she did not think she could raise a happy family even if they married. Kijima claimed Terada then gave her his bankbook with a balance of 11.27 million yen and told her he wanted her to have the money, according to Kijima. However, the court said Kijima was unlikely to have been serious about marrying him because she was involved in an intimate relationship with another man. In the ruling, it said, "It is impossible to believe that someone would hand a bankbook to another person who was planning to break up with him.”

Kijima claimed she bought the charcoal and stoves for cooking and Oide asked her to give them to him. When she asked him why, Oide told her he wanted them for camping, she said. Asked why she bought an item to burn charcoal on the same day Oide was killed, she said, "I just happened to see them [at the store]." The court said Kijima's claim that buying such items for cooking is unnatural and she failed to provide a reasonable explanation as to why she bought a large amount of charcoal. "The defendant was talking to Mr. Oide about their impending marriage while looking for an apartment for herself and maintaining an intimate relationship with another man. She lied to him, saying that she would introduce him to her family," the ruling said.

Ueta Middle-Aged Boyfriend Killers

There was a similar case involving a 36-year-old hostess who was arrested in January 2010 for murdering a 57-year-old electrician by drowning him in a creek after giving him sleeping pills in October 2009 in Tottori Prefecture. The hostess, Miyuki Ueta, is thought to have committed the murder to get out paying the victim a $15,000 debt for some household appliances. Ueta was acquainted with two other men in Tottori who died under suspicious circumstances: a 47-year-old truck driver found drowned in the Japan Sea, and a 58-year-old unemployed man found dead in his room in the same apartment building that Ueta lived in.

Police found that Ueta purchased sleep inducers and tranquilizers that matched those found in the body of electrician that she purchased two weeks before his death. Ueta’s live-in boyfriend has also been charged in connection with the electrician’s death.

In December 2012, Jiji Press reported: “The Tottori District Court sentenced Miyuki Ueta to death for the murder and robbery of two men in Tottori Prefecture in 2009. She was found guilty of all charges against her, including the two cases of murder and robbery, and a number of frauds. The two men were truck driver Kazumi Yabe, 47, and home electronics shop owner Hideki Maruyama, 57. Ueta used sleeping pills to put Yabe and Maruyama to sleep before drowning them in the sea and a river, respectively, to escape her debt obligations to them. [Source: Jiji Press, December 5, 2012]

Health Club Murder in Japan

In December 2007, two people were shot dead and six others, including two young girls, were wounded when an unemployed man, 37-year-old Masayohsi Magome, opened fire with a shotgun at a fitness club in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. The suspect fled the scene in a minivan and was found dead in church compound with self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Over 2,500 rounds of ammunition were found in his van.

The two people who were killed were a 26-year-old female swim instructor at the club that Magome reportedly had a crush on and a school buddy that Magome invited to visit the club with him. Magome left no suicide note or clues to why he did what he did. He came from a churchgoing Catholic family and often boasted he had a high-paying job even though he didn’t work. Magome legally owned his gun. Some of his neighbors complained about his strange behavior and asked the government to have his gun license revoked.

Rampage in Akihabara

In June 2008, a 25-year-old temporary auto factory worker, Tomohiro Kato, went on a carefully planned rampage, killing seven people’six men and one woman ages 19 to 74 — and injuring 10, in the busy Akiharbara shopping district of Tokyo. Dressed in a pale suit, he drove 95 kilometers from his home and plowed a rented two-ton truck into a crowd and then leaped out and began stabbing bystanders. Afterwards Kato confessed to police he wanted to kill as many people as possible.

Of the 17 that were killed or injured, five were struck by the truck and 12 were stabbed. Kato purposely drove the truck through a pedestrian crossing as people were crossing, trying to kill as many people as possible that way. The truck was traveling 40 to 50 kilometers per hour in a zigzag pattern tp avoid other vehicles. Kato drove around the area for 20 minutes before beginning the attack apparently trying to get the timing right for plowing into the intersection. Three of the five people he hit died.

Kato stopped the truck about 70 meters from the intersection and got out and ran back to the intersection with the a double edge combat knife in his hand, stabbing 12 people in the crowded intersection within one minute. As he ran from the truck he stabbed three people. In the intersection about 100 people were milling around. There he stabbed five people, three of them in the back. One of the victims was a policeman who was assisting victims hit by the truck.

Pedestrians initially thought only traffic accident had taken place. When they realized that a man with a knife was running amok they began to scatter. At this point in the attack Kato stabbed three of the fleeing people in the back.

The entire Akihabara rampage unfolded in less than two minutes. It resulted in the highest death toll for an attack of this kind in postwar history. The Washington Post described the scene as looking like a war zone with “puddles of blood and random shoes on the pavement.” Some of the victims did not even know they had been stabbed. The double edged knife Kato used made it easy for him to thrust deeply and withdraw the blade and repeatedly stab in this way with a minimum effort. One victim whose liver was penetrated by the knife died four hours after the attack in a hospital.

About five minutes after the attack began police officers from a local koban surrounded Kato in a back alley about 50 meters from the intersection. The policeman who first confronted Kato did so with a police baton. Kato managed to slash the policeman’s protective vest three time before the policeman pulled out his gun. At that point Kato dropped his knife. His face was covered with blood.

Akihabara Killer

Kato had posted a message on a cell phone bulletin board on the morning before he carried out his rampage that read: “I’m going to kill people in Akihabara.” He said he was “going to plow a car into [a crowd], and then — after the car becomes unusable — use a knife.” His last message, 20 minutes before he drove the truck into the intersection, was: “It’s time.”

Kato was lonely man who called himself “a cell phone addict.” He posted up to 200 messages a day on cell phone online bulletin boards about his work, issues with his parents, and desire for a girlfriend. He was also absorbed in manga, anime and video games, once telling a coworker, “People betray me, but anime and video games I create don’t.” He was also heavily in debt because of a car accident that resulted from a suicide attempt on an expressway.

Kato had three knives with him at the time of the killing: a double-edge, 13-centimeter dagger used in the stabbings, a butterfly knife and a throwing knife hidden in his sock. Afterwards Kato told police that job despair and worries about losing his job “made him kill.” Three days before the attack he left his workplace abruptly after being unable to find his work clothes in a dressing room, which a coworker said Kato might have interpreted as a message that he had been fired. On a bulletin board Kato wrote: “I made up my mind to carry out the stabbings two or three days ago...Of all the places I knew, the busiest place I could think of was the Akiharbara street during the times when it is closed to traffic.”

Kato is from a family of four from Aomori. His parents are divorced. He was regarded as one of the best students in his middle school and got into a prestigious high school in Aomori. When he started getting poor marks in high school he began to lose interest in school. Instead of going to university he decided to get an auto mechanic licence at a junior college in Gifu. He graduated from the college but never gt the license. He held a number of different jobs. At the time of the killings he lived in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, not far from Tokyo.

Kato said he hated life. Around 2004 he began sending e-mails tp a friend saying things like “I have no money” and “I want to die.” In a message on a cell phone bulletin board a few months he wrote, “I’ve been living the life of a loser.” In October 2008, Kato was deemed “mentally competent to stand trial.

Aftermath of the Akihabara Murder

arrest of Akihabara killer The government responded by banning two-edged knives 5.5 centimeters or longer. Those caught with one face a maximum prison sentence of three years r a maximum fine of $5,000. Only 600 banned knives were turned into police as party of campaign to get people to turn in their knives,

After the Akihabara rampage, the number of online posts threatening murder dramatically increased, reaching 2,800 in eight months after the incident, eight times higher than before.

After the Akihabara attack there were several copy cat stabbing attacks, including the stabbing death of a female worker and the wounding of another woman by a 33-year-old man in a bookstore in a building connected to a train station on Hachioji, Tokyo. In another incident six people were injured by a woman with a knife at JR Hiratsuka Station in Kanagawa Prefecture. In Osaka, a woman dressed in black randomly stabbed a bystander in a subway station.

In January 2010, Tomohiro Kato, the Akihabara murderer, pleaded guilty and apologized to the victim’s families, saying “I’m terribly sorry.” When the charges against him were read he said: “Though I don’t remember some parts of the incident, it’s true that I commited the attacks.” Prosecutors said he committed the crime “to show off his existence and get revenge on people who ignored or mistreated him” after no one paid attention to cell phone bulletin board postings and he thought somebody hid his work clothes.

Kato confessed to the charges. When asked why he committed the murders, Kato told a court in July 2010, “There are three reasons. One is my own thinking. The two others are harassment against the bulletin board and my way of life, which was deeply dependant on the board...There was someone who was passing himself off as me [on the bulletin board], and there was harassment [against me] there. I believed my intention to stop the harassment would be conveyed if my crime was reported.” He also apologized to the victims and their families and said his relationship with his mother might also be affecting, suggesting she sometimes humiliated him.

Kato was sentenced to death. In January 2011, the vehicle-free pedestrian zone in Akihabara that was the site of the crime was re-opened.

Myoko Sumida Murders

Beginning in October 2012 several bodies found in locations linked to a Japanese grandmother — Miyoko Sumida — who was arrested in December on murder and other charges, but she committed suicide in her cell while being detained by the Hyogo prefectural police. A total of six bodies have been found, including the body of a man discovered encased in concrete in a metal drum in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. Five families were believed to have been forced to separate as a result of Sumida's strong influence.

Julian Ryall wrote in the Telegraph: A 64-year-old grandmother from Amagasaki, central Japan, has been arrested for allegedly instigating a series of abductions and the deaths of at least eight people in a case that has transfixed the nation. Miyoko Sumida is the central figure in an investigation into multiple deaths of people she was related to, or acquainted with, while she is also suspected of killing her husband to claim insurance. Eight other people, including her common-law husband, adopted sons and her daughter-in-law, have also been arrested in connection with the case. [Source: Julian Ryall, the Telegraph, November 8, 2012]

The latest grim discovery came last month when the body of 54-year-old Jiro Hashimoto, one of her distant relatives, was discovered by police divers encased in concrete and inside a steel drum at the bottom of Hinase Harbour in Bizen, Okayama Prefecture. Mrs Sumida, who was rearrested, was already under investigation for her suspected role in a series of other deaths — including that of 66-year-old Kazuko Oe, whose body was also discovered encased in concrete in a drum, but in a warehouse.

The grandmother was arrested weeks ago following a tip to police that a number of people who had visited her luxurious penthouse apartment in Amagasaki had subsequently disappeared. In October police discovered the partly mummified remains of three corpses beneath the home of the 88-year-old grandmother of Mrs Sumida’s daughter-in-law. One of the bodies was identified as Mitsue Ando, 71, the partner of Mrs Sumida’s older brother. The other two were Mariko Nakashima, the 29-year-old older sister of Mrs Sumida’s daughter-in-law, and 68-year-old Takashi Tanimoto, whose elder brother was a friend of Mrs Sumida.

The investigation has also widened to look into the death in 2005 of Mrs Sumida’s husband during a holiday in Okinawa. According to the Sankei newspaper, a group of nine people gathered to have their photo taken on the top of a 150-foot high cliff when her husband fell. The family received Y90 million (about $1 million) in insurance and had a property mortgage written off, although police are investigating claims from people who were present that the man was coerced into committing suicide. Police are continuing to question the nine suspects on suspicion that more missing people may be discovered, including the 88-year-old grandmother, who has not been seen since 2003.

Sumida’s Web of a Murderers and Victims

Sumida's condominium, with three rooms and a living-dining space, is on the top floor of an eight-story building. The living room is filled with luxury furniture, according to investigative sources. Of the seven missing people tied to Sumida, two are male and five are female aged from 29 to 87. Four of them are identified as Sumida's kin, and five of them temporarily registered their residency at the house or two other locations in Amagasaki.

Sumida and four others — Sumida's cousin, 38; Oe's eldest daughter, 44; Oe's second daughter, 41; and her former husband, 42 — were arrested after the body of Kazuko Oe, 66, was found in a concrete-filled drum at a rental warehouse in Amagasaki in November 2011. The five who were indicted over the abandonment of Oe's body were Sumida; In February, all four except Sumida's cousin were indicted on an additional charge of beating Oe to death and unlawful confinement. The cousin received a prison sentence for abandoning the body.

In October 2012, this year, three other bodies were found under a private house in the same city. They were later identified as Takashi Tanimoto, born in 1944, Mitsue Ando, born in 1941, and Mariko Nakashima, born in 1982. The fifth body, Jiro Hashimoto, 53, was found in a concrete-filled drum salvaged from the sea in Bizen, Okayama Prefecture, in late October. The sixth body, Nori Minayoshi, born in 1924, was recovered from a farm-equipment shed in Takamatsu in December 2012. [Source: Jiji Press, December 13, 2012]

Jiji Press reported: “Sumida allegedly built a complex network of relatives and acquaintances, many of whom lived with her, while controlling them with violence, according to informed sources. In November 2012, Hyogo prefectural police arrested Miyoko Sumida and seven other people: Sumida's common-law husband Yoritaro Tei, 62; adopted first son Kentaro Sumida, 30; second son Yutaro Sumida, 25; daughter-in-law Rui Sumida, 27; Mieko Sumida, 59; Yasushi Nakashima, 42, the husband of Yutaro Sumida's sister-in-law; and Masanori Ri, 38. Mieko Sumida and Ri appear on Miyoko Sumida's family register as sister and cousin, respectively, but are not her blood relations. [Source: Jiji Press, November 8, 2012]

The Yomiuri Shimbun described a six-member family comprising a couple with two sons and two daughters that became connected with Sumida. Around 2001, the eldest son, 69, who was a janitor at a primary school in Amagasaki, became acquainted with Sumida, who was married to a man who went to the same middle school as the son. The family was soon on good terms with Sumida. After the eldest son quit his job in 2002 on Sumida's advice, he moved into Sumida's apartment in the same city. However, he went missing around 2003. By that time, the second son had already moved into Sumida's apartment. She demanded the second son pay for daily living expenses in place of the eldest son, after which he started giving his elder brother's pension payments to Sumida, the sources said. The 87-year-old mother of the two sons went missing around 2002. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 16, 2012]

A police official tracked down the eldest son this summer, who lived and worked in a laborers' lodge in the city. He had been living under a false name for many years, the police official said. "I tried to escape Sumida's place many times, but was taken back every time I tried. I'm afraid of her," he was quoted as saying. The 87-year-old woman's 60-year-old daughter is missing. Her granddaughter Rui, 27, who married Sumida's son in 2007, was indicted for stealing the pensions of her grandmother and her eldest son. Rui's elder sister, 29, and her uncle, 68, are also missing.

People Abused, Imprisoned and Killed by Sumida

According to investigative sources, Hashimoto, Mieko Sumida's brother-in-law, died of debilitation after he was physically abused and given only a limited amount of food at Sumida's condominium in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, where he was living with at least some of the suspects. Those arrested are believed to know why Hashimoto died, a source said, adding that the task force will question them in detail. Hashimoto was an acquaintance of Miyoko Sumida since childhood. He attempted to flee from her many times but was eventually brought back to the condominium in 2009 and confined there.

A grandmother of a missing man linked to the Sumida murders is believed to have died of physical abuse at the hands of Sumida and people associated with her. The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “According to Hyogo prefectural police, relatives of the grandmother said Miyoko Sumida started hanging around the house of the grandmother--a distant relative of Sumida--in about 1998 after they had a run-in with her over the funeral of a relative. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 23, 2012]

The woman was reportedly gagged, had her hands and feet tied, and was beaten. She is then said to have been kept under virtual house arrest together with four families, including that of her son, who lived in Shiga Prefecture, at a housing complex Sumida rented in Hyogo Prefecture. The family members also were forced to beat each other. The relatives told police the woman was made to stand all day long and was not given enough to eat or drink. She is said to have gradually weakened and died around March 1999. Since a doctor certified she died of illness, her death was unknown to police.

Family members of the woman then set up different households to escape from Sumida's confinement, the police said. The status of the 36-year-old man, whose absence has been officially reported, remains unknown, and at least one of the family members committed suicide, according to police.

In December 2012, Jiji Press reported: “The prefectural police department of Hyogo, western Japan, on Monday found the sixth human body apparently linked to Miyoko Sumida. The body, which may be that of a missing woman remotely related to Sumida, was found in a shed for storing agricultural equipment in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, the police said. The missing woman, who would be 88 now, lived in an Amagasaki house, where three bodies were found in October. One of the three bodies was that of a granddaughter of the missing woman.[Source: Jiji Press, December 5, 2012]

Bodies Found under the Hyogo House

In October 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “A third body has been found under a house in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, a day after two bodies were found buried under the same house, police said. According to police sources, people close to Miyoko Sumida told investigators more bodies had been abandoned in Kagawa and Okayama prefectures. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 17, 2012]

One source close to Sumida reportedly told the Hyogo prefectural police this month that six bodies had been hidden in the prefecture. "Three bodies are in the house, and three others were killed and their bodies were abandoned elsewhere in the prefecture," the source was quoted as saying. The third body found Monday night was buried near the sites where the two bodies were earlier unearthed. According to the police, autopsies showed the two victims, earlier unearthed under the floor of the house, were women and that several years had passed since their death. They were about 150 centimeters tall and were buried naked, the police added. One victim appears to be aged about 70, while the other is believed to be in her 20s or 30s.

Regarding the three bodies, a person close to Sumida named the victims and provided other specific information, the police sources said. "[The bodies] are those of two women and one man. The two women were buried in 2008 or 2009," the person was quoted as saying. According to police sources, the person said the three bodies belong to a 29-year-old woman who lived in Takamatsu and is a granddaughter of the missing 87-year-old woman, who used to live in the house; her 68-year-old uncle; and a 71-year-old woman who was acquainted with Sumida.

About 10 years ago, Sumida and others took the 29-year-old woman somewhere after visiting her house in Takamatsu and harassing her family repeatedly, according to her relatives and others. Her uncle accompanied her at the time out of concern for her safety, they said. The whereabouts of both the woman and the uncle have been unknown since then. The 29-year-old woman is the sister of Rui Sumida, 27, who married Sumida's son and has been indicted for stealing her grandmother's pension payments. The sisters' mother indicated to her relatives at that time that her family had trouble with Sumida over money.

On the two bodies discovered before the third one, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “One of the victims was a woman with gray hair. The body had been covered in concrete and part of her feet had decomposed. Another body, which had also decomposed, was found about two meters from the first victim. The gender was not determined, but the deceased had 10-centimeter-long hair, the sources said. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 16, 2012]

Body 'Put in Drum, Dumped off Okayama'

The body of a 54-year-old man, Jiro Hashimoto, was put into a metal drum and thrown into the sea off Okayama Prefecture, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “The man died after being physically abused and confined at the home of Miyoko Sumida. He is a younger brother of the husband of Mieko Sumida, Miyoko's sister-in-law. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 24, 2012]

Miyoko's relatives reportedly told the police Hashimoto was beaten at her home and confined in a shed on the balcony for several days but was found dead when it was opened, investigative sources said Tuesday. The shed can be locked from outside. The 54-year-old man had been living with Sumida and others for a while, but fled to Tokyo. He was found by members of Sumida's group in 2009 and taken back to Sumida's condominium in Amagasaki. He had been living with her until he died around the summer of last year, the police suspect.

The relatives said Hashimoto had been regularly punched and kicked by those close to Sumida, the investigative sources said. After he died, he was put in a metal drum with concrete, carried to Bizen, Okayama Prefecture, and abandoned in the sea, they reportedly told police. Nakashima died under similar circumstances after several days of confinement in the shed after having been beaten, the relatives reportedly told the police.

In November 2011, the body of Kazuko Oe, 66, was found encased in concrete inside a 200-liter metal drum in a rental storage space in the city. Sumida was indicted on suspicion of confining Oe and inflicting injuries resulting in her death as well as abandoning her body.

Sumida’s Prison Suicide

In December 2012, Sumida was found dead in a police cell.Jiji Press reported: “The Hyogo prefectural police believe Sumida, 64, committed suicide. A long-sleeve shirt was wound tightly around her neck. After being taken from the cell at the police headquarters in Kobe, she was confirmed dead at a hospital. Her death is expected to make it even harder for police and prosecutors to understand the whole picture of the bizarre case. Six of Sumida's relatives and acquaintances have been found dead and some others are still missing. [Source: Jiji Press, December 13, 2012]

According to the police, a policewoman checking cells at the headquarters found Sumida neither moving nor breathing in the three-person cell at about 6:10 a.m. Her death was confirmed at 7:15 a.m. The police had checked Sumida's cell four times every hour after she repeatedly said she wanted to die and asked how she could kill herself. She had been breathing during the previous check at about 5:55 a.m. the same day. The previous night, when an officer asked Sumida about her health, she replied with a smile that she was all right.

Earlier Jiji Press reported: “A police task force said Sumida had broadly admitted to the charges but noted that not all of the others were involved in the case. The police said the other arrested suspects had confessed to the charges almost entirely. The police said Miyoko Sumida is suspected of conspiring with the seven others to put the body of Jiro Hashimoto, then 53, with concrete in a drum in late July 2011 and disposing of it in the sea off Bizen, Okayama Prefecture, in early November that year.

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Daily Yomiuri, Times of London, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated January 2013

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