• Kyodo


A 16-year-old boy under arrest in connection with an arson fire that claimed his stepmother and siblings at their Nara Prefecture home has told police he did not want his father to know about his school performance, investigative sources said Friday.

The boy, whose identity has been withheld because he is a minor, was arrested Thursday and admitted starting a fire at the bottom of the stairs in his house in Tawaramoto early Tuesday with the intention of killing his stepmother, Dr. Minka Yoshikawa, 38, brother, Yoshiki, 7, and sister, Yumin, 5. Their bodies bore knife wounds but an autopsy revealed they died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the sources said.

The statement by the boy, a high school sophomore, suggest he was under intense pressure from his father, Motoyoshi, 47, also a doctor, over his performance at school, the sources said.

The boy was sent to the prosecutors Friday.

A parents’ meeting was scheduled later Tuesday at the boy’s high school, where students’ recent test scores were to be disclosed.

“I didn’t want my mother to attend a parent-teacher meeting and let my father find out my test results,” he was quoted as telling police.

The boy also told them he was thinking about killing his father, too, the sources said.

The boy told police that his father nagged him about his school performance and urged him to attend cram school, although his school did not recommend its students to do so, the sources said.

The boy, on his father’s advice, attended an English conversation school.

The boy’s whereabouts after the fire broke out early Tuesday was unknown until police took him into custody Thursday morning in Kyoto. Police said the boy broke into the home of a 60-year-old woman in Kyoto around 7:45 a.m. and was watching TV in the living room when she found him.

He said he had learned of the deaths of his stepmother and siblings on TV news.

The boy’s father was working a night shift at a hospital in neighboring Mie Prefecture at the time of the fire.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.