Three teen suspects held in Kawasaki boy’s slaying


Three male teenagers were arrested Friday on suspicion of stabbing to death a 13-year-old boy in Kawasaki last week, investigative sources said.

The eldest of the three, an 18-year-old resident believed to be the main suspect, told investigators he wishes to remain silent, while the other two, both 17, denied any involvement in the slaying, claiming “I was only nearby” and “I have no memory of killing (Uemura).”

One of the 17-year-olds, however, fingered the 18-year-old high school dropout as Uemura’s killer, sources said.

The names of all three are being withheld because they are minors.

The naked body of 13-year-old Ryota Uemura, a first-year junior high school student, was found near the Tama River in Kawasaki on Feb. 20.

The arrests were based on security footage recorded near the scene, as well as Uemura’s logs on a free online messaging app, the sources said.

According to one of his friends, Uemura had confided that he was being hassled by a group of older boys and feared he might be killed. Uemura was subjected to escalating violence after revealing his intention to cut ties with the boys, the friend said.

An autopsy determined that Uemura died early Feb. 20 from hemorrhagic shock caused by stab wounds to his neck. There were also knife wounds to his face and arms.

The weekly magazine Shukan Shincho reported the wounds appeared to indicate Uemura’s killer may have been trying to decapitate him.

“Some investigators suspect (the criminals) watched Internet videos showing the execution of hostages by Islamic State group fighters and sought to mimic them,” the magazine said, quoting an unnamed source close to the police.

The police believe a fire reported around 3 a.m. on Feb. 20 may have been an attempt to cover up the crime, as they found charred remains of shoe soles and ash thought to be from clothes in a public lavatory in a park about 700 meters from the riverbank.

Absent from school since Jan. 8, Uemura expressed a willingness on Feb. 16 to return when he spoke with his homeroom teacher by phone, according to the Kawasaki Board of Education.

Uemura’s family moved to Kawasaki in September 2013, when he was in the sixth grade of elementary school, from an island in Shimane Prefecture.

  • KaiHarate

    The dark side of Japan’s inability to simply recognize a serious problem yet have no lines of communication going to make any basic decisions at all. The boy was too frightened to go to school for a month and only a phone call from homeroom teacher is what family got? What was going on in the months (years?) leading up to the month refusing to go to school? Why wouldn’t a very serious investigation occur once a child is to traumatized to attend school? No school authority or police early intervention by tracking down the bully early on? Bullying happens in all countries but Japan seems to be unique in the cases where red flags and sirens are blaring for months in front of adults yet no adults can coordinate with a basic plan to first discipline bullies (with police involvement in extreme cases) and/or also several layers of protection for the child victim who cannot defend themselves without adult intervention. It’s one thing when bullying remains silent among handful of children but when adults find out about it then Japan seems unique in just no ability to create basic communication avenues for victim, parents, friends, principal,,police.

    Such a senseless death of a young child it’s just truly heart wrenching…all the more so when you just know pathetic communication of key adults was going on that is so tyoical in Japan during critical moments. Just shameful. All they had to do was get school principal and local police together and first let the boy know his back is covered and they would now be handling seriously those who are torturing him (for months? Since he moved in 2013?) then have a long sit down with bullies making sure they understand jail is in their future if things don’t stop asap. It’s infuriating to learn adults knew of this child’s terror and basically nothing but a phone call from home room teacher was done. Principal, police, others should be utterly ashamed of themselves and resign as only honorable thing to do.

    I once was a substitute teacher in Bronx, NY for a year. Once bullying is found out by an adult…action is taken. Toughest guys are pulled aside. Police are called in to meetings if necessary (only a one-in-a-million sociopath child wouldnt respond to strong adult intervention). The toughest kids would all crumble right away. Even in Bronx you had better implementation of bully prevention once it was discovered by adults. It wasn’t perfect but in all severe cases of bullying…the severe bullying stopped. It is almost unheard of in toughest schools in NYC that this level of bully torture occurs. They have fights and issues everday but this could not happen in the Bronx. And doesn’t. You’re not going to google a story where some kid in NYC was tortured for months or years and eventually met a tragic end like this. This is common in Japan.

    • Tory Gates

      The whole thing is tragic, and it is not confined to Japan or the US (I’m an American, btw). I went through it myself, back in a day when bullying and violence was just kids being kids, and the victim was always to blame. I recall my father ignoring the problem, and my mother would start screaming at me if I ever brought it up. So I went silent. Today, I see the same things: parents sticking their heads in the sand, and school officials and teachers fearing lawsuits, more concerned about dress codes and test scores. I wrote a book about this (not yet published), which has much to do with what goes on, and what happens when the problem is ignored and spun out of control. Over time, we can heal from these things, and that is the premise; I did somehow survive the abuse, the terrible depression and the wish to end my life to become productive. For so many there appears to be no way out, but we need to have the stones to step up and say this will not do. Let us hope this crime wakes some people up, not just in Japan but elsewhere.

      • Otakuoasis

        It is a very sad case of a victim dying from bullying in Japan. I wish there was a way to help victims from bullying. If you ever publish your book I would love to read it :)

    • Japanese Bull Fighter

      What evidence do you have that “this is common in Japan?” In Japan you hear about incidents from the entire country. In the US, you hear about only local incidents. Something that happens in a school in LA, for example, does not get reported in NYC. Further, if you actually check on the Bronx you will find that there was a fatal stabbing related to bullying in July last year and that there was a substantial flap over racially motivated bullying of young boys from Somalia in October. In Chicago, kids of the same age as the Kawasaki victim are out on the streets getting shot in gang warfare.

      • Great name btw… Yes, in Japan, serious bullying that leads to violence usually become national news. In the US, we got more serious crimes to report on a national level. Geographical size, population, and rate of crime instance are major factors.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        I just put this lying thing in his place. This guy is a complete fraud. The Bronx indeed! Give me a flying break.

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      Made up your story about being a sub in the Bronx huh? Yeah right. Well unfortunately for you and your anti-Japanese bias that the above story could not have happened in the US much less, of all places in the Bronx shows what a complete idiot you for even attempting to lie and BS about could have happened in a sh–t slum of a borough the Bronx was and still is. I was a board certified SS teacher and taught in the south Bronx for two years and have seen and witnessed much worse than this poor kid in Kawasaki. I would suggest you take lessons on how to lie before posting on social media. And if you want to challenge me on your credentials tell me the PS number of your school…..I could find easily what kind of ‘beautiful safe neighbourhood’ you taught at Mr. Sub…..What a typical American loser living in Japan.

      • KaiHarate

        Such hysterics from Mr. Barry Bronx Teacher. I wonder if you have the courage to speak to anyone like that in person or all mouth behind closed doors like so many these days ? Always so easy to be so nasty in front of a computer…ne?

        I don’t live in Japan but once did. Unlike you, I’m capable of liking a country while being able to opine about its dark sides. Nice country but not the utopia that gaijin like you espouse to anyone back home with ears to hear. Love to tell the people back in the States how safe it all is? Well my Japanese friend thinks you’re an idiot not only for your response but “another clown gaijin over-protective of “their” Nippon”. Japan news has been filled with these type of “only in Japan” tragedies. Japan Times routinely covers these bully cases ending in tragedy. All have a theme. Lack of basic communication prevented early intervention and easy stoppage of bully. All sorts of adults find out about severe bullying, or worse, and none of them do the simple thing. Severe beatings, twisted torture, murder, suicide are end results. Students across Japan are being bullied worse than Bronx kids.

        Bronx might have crazy areas and emotional nuts but not a chance any school principal wants level of bad press or enraged parent if a tortured child was left hanging for months in limbo and finally to scared to leave home. As any NYC teacher would know, police are either in the school at all times or assigned to school duty and nearby with daily visits if in a safer area. Teachers would know that once a parent called or came to school complaining about their child too frightened to leave home a cop would be assigned to investigate and a case worker assigned to family. The principal would scramble red alert after knowing things are toxic level and can’t be hidden from general community (at least in Bronx the fear of media showing up with camera and mice asking questions will motivate even the worst school into action if anything like this went on in Bronx). As any teacher would know, NYC has strict truancy laws…a parent can go to jail if child stops showing up to school even if parent means well. and cops waste no time knocking on doors. And NYPD would have found bully WAY before anything to this level went down. I saw some nasty fist fights (mostly the girls interestingly enough) and some mean teasing. Some tough kids for sure. But not a chance NYPD (the best police department in the world where most large cities – including Tokyo – send their cops to learn) would have let a 13 year old get relentlessly tortured for months by 18 year old adult (years) once they found out about it. The boy would be alive if this particular thing happened in the Bronx. He would have endured bullying but would have stopped eventually and certainly never would have wound up brutally murdered. And so would many of the Japanese kids tortured (not just bullied) for months while Japanese in charge did a lot of “soo desu ne” but didn’t do simple common sense stuff that all developed countries do.

        That young girl last year who told every adult she could find (parent, teacher, principal, police) she was being stalked relentlessly by a violent man yet not one did a thing. Never communicated with each other never came up with a plan. A phone call by police went to stalker only because principal asked “if you don’t mind?”. Because family finally started getting scared and finally didn’t want to go along with “don’t make a fuss for society”. What did police do? Left a voicemail for stalker to stop it. A polite phone call…how lovely. What did stalker do? Listened to voice mail, went over to girl’s area, waited, and stabbed her to death. What did Japan do? Talked about it online endlessly how idiotic all official adults were and inept. What resulted? No change. No communication.

        Bronx has problems like all places do. But it’s actually quite safe now as is all of NYC with a general crime rate lower than London, Paris, Rome…where they don’t report crime like Tokyo doesn’t report crime so you don’t even know who is out there doing what half the time it seems. But in the Bronx this long term ineptitude due to zero communication leading to child’s senseless death has NEVER happened in modern times. It’s why you can’t Google up a story comparable. Gang violence is what you get in Bronx…but not this type of thing. And be careful tagging Bronx as a zoo you wouldn’t recommend to Japanese…I had my smartphone stolen in Sendai while on weekend there. Never had anything stolen off me in in NYC. My Japanese female friends don’t like the street talk they get in NYC but they agree less likely to be sexually assaulted or groped in NYC then Japan…none have in fact while all had it done in Japan more than once at all stages of life.

        John Tetard JS 143. Now go and research and come back to the teeming masses gathered here waiting for your detailed detective work. If only Japanese police took crime as serious as you take blog posts.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Oh dear! Threw your teddy bear across the room didn’t you? tisk…tisk…
        Now before you accuse me of hysterics because I called you out on a lie, I would suggest you read the other comments commenting on your Bronx BS. I am afraid I was not the only one who thought what a whopper you decided to compose. Other than that, you seem to attract good company, a cellphone stolen in Sendai? I lived there myself and never acted in retarded way like you ‘having my cellphone stolen’….Surely you must be some hick from Middle America somewhere.

        Lastly, if I had met you having the heard the nonsense you attempted to spew, I would have nailed you to the mast for it. BTW, I am back in NY and if you are around lets meet for a beer and ‘hash’ things out like a New Yorker would, if you are really one…..

  • GBR48

    None of this is peculiarly Japanese and this particular case goes way beyond bullying. It has more in common with the macabre murders by young people that have been reported in the JT recently, and with the cases that hit the headlines globally from time to time, when children torture and kill, such as the Jamie Bulger case in the UK in 1993. These cases are relatively rare.

    The solution is not radical, difficult nor terribly expensive. The bullying this murder began with needs to be addressed in all schools, with a culture of respect, a complete intolerance of all bullying, and immediate intervention whenever a case comes to light. A key element is the employment of a trustworthy individual within every school, whose sole duty is to identify those who are at risk, vulnerable, being bullied or suffering from mental health issues or abuse and co-ordinate support for them.

    Those who bully also require special attention. Simple punishment is not a solution. When a child is behaving in such an anti-social manner, it is important to find out why. This may involve welfare agencies investigating the child’s home life and working with parents to alter their behaviour.

    There is obviously a requirement here for all teachers, parents and the pupils themselves to always be ready to recognise bullying and to have a secure, discreet method by which to report it. In schools where bullies are well known to pupils, and often to teachers, their reputation having been already earned, things have already gone too far and an extensive anti-bullying campaign should be implemented as a matter of urgency.

    You might think that such a regime of mutual respect is tougher to implement in schools than, say, in the workplace, but schools have terms and new annual intakes that allow an establishment of new rules to be laid down more easily than with adults in an office environment. It is possible, at any time, to radically curtail school bullying, if an effort is made.

    The social lines such policies cross, with welfare officers visiting homes and intervening in family life, must be accepted, as it is necessary within our society for all adults to be concerned with, to value and to prioritise the welfare of all children. Parents, particularly, must play their part, however distressing it may be to learn that their child is being bullied, or is a bully.

    No society can exclude itself from its duty to protect children across the community, simply by closing the front door and refusing to permit intervention, should it be necessary. The protection of vulnerable children outweighs any other societal, legal or cultural restriction.

    The extreme brutality in this case is rare. It can happen anywhere, but a mix of anti-bullying projects in schools and early intervention in cases of anti-social behaviour can reduce the frequency at which it occurs.

    All of these solutions can be rolled out at any time, in any nation, for relatively little cost. Many of them can be initiated within individual schools by the staff themselves, with support from local welfare services, without requiring any formal command from education authorities, although a funded, co-ordinated approach is obviously beneficial.

    Parents can also lobby schools to demand such mechanisms are put in place to protect their children from harm.

    If you feel as a teacher, that none of this is your business, and you are only there to teach a subject, then I would say that you are a failure as a schoolteacher and might like to consider a career away from young, impressionable and often vulnerable people.

    If as a parent you feel that your only concern is for your own child, then I hope they grow up with a greater sense of social responsibility, a greater empathy for their fellow citizens, a better personality and a kinder spirit than you have.

    Simply by being adults, we have a duty of care to protect children. All of them.