National

Kato sentenced to hang over '08 Akihabara killing spree

Kyodo News

The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced a temporary worker to hang for the deadly vehicular and stabbing rampage in Tokyo’s Akihabara district in 2008.

Tomohiro Kato, 28, stood accused of running down five pedestrians, killing three and injuring two, with a truck in a pedestrian-only zone in Akihabara on June 8, 2008, and fatally stabbing four passersby with a dagger. He also wounded eight others with the blade.

The mass but random killings were said at the time to be representative of the growing problem of social disparity in Japan. Before the rampage, Kato had posted messages on a mobile phone bulletin board in which he complained about his job and expressed his intent to commit the crime.

Because Kato, who was subdued at the scene, owned up to the charges, the focus of the trial was on his mental state at the time of the rampage.

Arguing he was mentally competent, prosecutors pointed to his attempts to justify himself in response to people who had harassed him on the bulletin board, branding his act “self-centered.” They said his unstable employment, an inferiority complex about his appearance and his inability to find a girlfriend had also led him to commit the crime.

His counsel, in seeking leniency, argued his mental competency was diminished at the time of the crime.

Kato told the court at the end of the trial: “Now I think I should not have committed the incident and regret what I have done. . . . I feel sorry for the victims and their families and the people injured.”

The crime led to a ban on possession of daggers and a suspension of the pedestrian-only zone in Akihabara.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5