• Kyodo News


A 24-year old man who murdered two children in Kobe in 1997 when he was 14 has sent a letter of apology to the family of one of the victims, the victim’s father said Sunday.

It is the second time the man has directly expressed an apology to the family of Jun Hase, an 11-year-old boy whose head was cut off and left outside a school gate in Suma Ward, Kobe, in May 1997.

According to Mamoru Hase, 51, the letter was delivered May 12 to his family by lawyers representing the man.

Hase did not disclose the letter’s contents, but he said he is considering making his opinion about the letter public in the near future.

He said the man also proposed sending offerings to console the victim’s soul, but the family rejected the proposal.

The man sent a letter of apology for the first time in August 2004 to the parents of Hase and the other victim, Ayaka Yamashita, a 10-year-old girl who died after she and three other schoolgirls were attacked in February and March 1997.

The man sent a second letter of apology to the Yamashita family in March.

The man’s name has been withheld because he was a minor at the time of the crimes.

He was released on parole in March 2004 from a Tokyo medical reformatory.

His parole period ended Dec. 31 that year, and the man was fully discharged from state supervision.

The incident shocked the nation and led the government to change the juvenile law in 2001 to lower the minimum age to apply criminal punishment from 16 to 14. It also affected a nationwide discussion on supporting crime victims.

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