• Kyodo

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A memorial service was held Sunday in Osaka Prefecture for the eight children who were killed by a man who went on a stabbing spree in June 2001 at a local elementary school.

About 1,400 people, including schoolchildren and their parents, attended the ceremony at City Hall in Toyonaka to mark the second anniversary of the attack.

The attendants prayed for the seven girls and one boy who were killed when Mamoru Takuma went on a rampage June 8, 2001, at Ikeda Elementary School, which is affiliated with Osaka Kyoiku University in Ikeda, adjacent to Toyonaka.

School Principal Yoshio Yamane expressed his sorrow over the incident, and a sixth-grader offered a vow on behalf of all the school’s students to see that such a tragedy never happens again.

About 40 students decided not to take part in the service because some feared they might suffer trauma by recalling the incident, according to a school official.

The eight killed were Yuka Kiso, 7, Kana Tsukamoto, 7, Yuki Hongo, 7, Ayano Moriwaki, 7, Maki Sakai, 7, Mayuko Isaka, 7, Rena Yamashita, 8, and 6-year-old Takahiro Totsuka.

The father of Sakai, who spoke on behalf of the victims, told schoolchildren, “I want you to know how much your fathers and mothers treasure you all.”

Meanwhile, other people who did not participate in the ceremony stopped by the elementary school and offered flowers, messages, paintings and paper cranes at a memorial stand at the main entrance.

“We will be friends forever,” one message said. Another said, “To eight pretty angels: we have never stopped thinking about you.”

Hideko Hatakeyama, 47, who lives in Ikeda, said, “I came here today because I did not want to let the incident fade with time.”

The attack served as a grim warning of the weakness of security management at schools nationwide.

The education ministry, admitting the school’s failure to provide adequate security, said last week it has agreed to pay 400 million yen in compensation to the families of the eight children.

Education minister Atsuko Toyama signed the agreement with the families Saturday.

Takuma, 39, is currently on trial in the Osaka District Court. Prosecutors demanded the death penalty in May, charging that he went on the rampage determined to kill as many schoolchildren as he could in a perverse act of revenge against society.

In addition to the eight fatalities, 13 students and two teachers were wounded in the attack.

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