• Kyodo


A 22-year-old man who murdered two children in Kobe in 1997 when he was 14 has sent a letter of apology to his victims’ parents, lawyers for the parents said Thursday.

It is the first time the man has directly expressed an apology to the families of Jun Hase, 11, who was strangled and whose head was cut off and left at a school gate, and Ayaka Yamashita, 10, who was killed when she and three other schoolgirls were attacked by the man.

The handwritten letter by the killer, who was paroled in March, was delivered to Hase’s parents by four officers of the Justice Ministry’s Rehabilitation Bureau during a meeting with them Wednesday, according to the couple’s lawyer, who was present.

A similar letter was also delivered to Yamashita’s parents Thursday, the lawyer for her parents said.

The contents of the letters were not made public.

The Hases’ lawyer said the father, Mamoru, 48, was “not yet ready to read” the letter and entrusted it to the lawyer.

According to the Yamashitas’ lawyer, the girl’s 48-year-old mother, Kyoko, said, “I will think it over,” and accepted the letter.

The killer, whose name has been withheld because he was a minor at the time of the slayings, was released March 10 from a Tokyo medical reformatory and will remain on parole until Dec. 31.

The ministry has only informed the parents that he is living somewhere other than the Kinki region in western Japan, where the murders took place, and that he now has a job.

Mamoru Hase issued a statement saying that, while the information provided by the ministry about the killer was insufficient, he was somewhat satisfied with what he had learned.

“We perceive it as a letter of apology and will read the letter when we feel ready,” he said.

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