Four held on suspicion of pushing Chiba youth to his death


Four people were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murdering a 17-year-old male whose body was found in the Tegakawa River in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture.

Ryuta Sato was found naked at the bottom of the river four hours after the suspects called an ambulance at 6:10 a.m. Monday. They said their friend had drowned. Sato was later confirmed dead in a hospital.

The four suspects are Yohei Kojima, 22, a co-worker of Sato; Junta Okada, 20, a former colleague of Sato; Masumi Watanabe, 21, a friend of Okada; and a 19-year-old male whose name was not released because he is a minor.

They have been turned over to prosecutors.

The four suspects initially told the police that they went to the bridge to view the sunrise and that Sato had drowned after searching for belongings he had dropped into the river.

Kojima reportedly told the police that he had financial troubles with Sato when the two lived together last summer but denied the murder charge. The remaining three owned up to the charges, investigative sources said.

Some of them allegedly said they had threatened Sato to either jump into the river or let them beat him. According to their account, Sato then took off his clothes and hung from the handrail.

Investigators believe the four pushed him from the handrail.

The suspects said they went to Sato’s house at around 2 a.m. Monday and all of them drove from there to the river.

Some of the suspects, however, told the police that they forced Sato to jump into another river, the investigative sources said. According to this account, since Sato’s clothes were wet, he borrowed some clothes from Kojima and the five headed to the Tegakawa River, where he eventually drowned.

The river is about 40 meters wide and about 3 meters deep at its deepest point.