• Kyodo

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Communicating via the Internet allowed the 16-year-old girl arrested Sunday after confessing to the slaying of a former classmate in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, to present herself in a positive light and mask her violent side, experts speculated.

The suspect is currently being held on an initial charge of abandoning a corpse. Police found the body on a mountain on July 13 based on the girl’s confession the previous day.

While the messages the suspect sent to friends via the instant messaging app Line included words of appreciation, there were none of remorse for having taken part in a heinous crime.

The first message hinting that the girl was going to turn herself in was sent on July 11, the night before she did so.

She sent messages to Taihei Seto, 21, who was arrested Thursday for his alleged involvement in the case, to her 16-year-old boyfriend and to other friends, some of whom are apparently not suspected of involvement in the killing. Seto and five 16-year-olds, including two males, were arrested Thursday.

Included with words of appreciation was the statement: “I’m going to take responsibility.”

Among its functions, the Line application lets smartphone users send messages to each other, or groups, for free.

“It is an alternative (communication method) to chatting or emailing,” journalist Daisuke Tsuda, an expert on social media, said.

“The incident didn’t occur because of Line,” said Tsuda, referring to the slaying, for which the suspect reportedly confessed to committing because the victim had bad-mouthed her on Line. “Because there are an increasing number of communication tools, they could trigger (such revenge crimes).”

Tsuda likened the latest case to the 2004 murder of a sixth-grade girl at a school in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, who was killed by her classmate because she allegedly spoke ill of her on the Internet.

Focusing on the content of messages exchanged by the 16-year-old girl and her friends in relation to the Kure killing, psychiatrist Rika Kayama said: “If she actually committed the crime, (her friends) are not those to whom she should apologize. But she is not aware of this.”

Line or other social-networking services “are a specific environment, where a user can pretend to be ‘a better person,’ ” said Kayama. “Everyone tries to show his or her better side, but this seems conspicuous in SNS.

“By exposing her gentle side, the girl might be trying to hide the violent side,” said Kayama, suggesting that the popularity of social-networking services has offered people an avenue to display different personalities.

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