• Kyodo

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The youth sent to a reformatory for the 1997 killings of two children in Kobe has recently become more communicative and open, sources close to his relatives said Wednesday.

The youth, now 18, has for the first time started telling staff at the Kanto Medical Reform and Training School in Tokyo that he is interested in life and has recently seen his parents and a psychiatrist to talk with them about his future, the sources said.

Earlier, the youth had refused to meet his parents and had said he wanted to commit suicide.

The youth was arrested June 28, 1997, on suspicion of strangling Jun Hase, 11, in May that year in a residential area in Kobe’s Suma Ward, and placing his severed head three days later in front of the gate of the junior high school he attended.

He later confessed to having bludgeoned to death a 10-year-old girl living nearby in March the same year.

In a comment released Wednesday, one day before the fourth anniversary of Hase’s death, Mamoru Hase, 45, Jun’s father, said he will never forget the youth’s name, although his family rarely talks about him.

The past four years “have been long as well as short for us,” Hase said. “I can never forget Jun on his last day. Everybody might see us as an ordinary family, but I think we will never again be able to be as we were.”

The Kobe Family Court determined that the killer was suffering from mental illness and in October 1997 sent him to the medical reformatory.

The sources also said the youth has read a book in which Hase’s relatives wrote about their shock and grief.

Juvenile training schools can administer medical treatment until inmates turn 26. The youth cannot be named because he is a minor, and his name will not be disclosed even after he turns 20 and legally becomes an adult.

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