KOBE — The May 1997 murder of 11-year-old Jun Hase in Suma Ward here shocked Japan and made world headlines for the sensational nature of the crime.

That shock soon turned to anger after police arrested a 14-year-old boy in the killing, sparking a national debate on juvenile crime, as parents, schoolteachers and the public pondered the forces that drove the youth to strangle, and later behead, his victim. The fatal attack on a girl earlier the same year was also subsequently blamed on the boy, who was suffering emotional problems and had allegedly killed cats and other animals before the slayings.

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