• Kyodo

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One of the two 17-year-olds arrested over the killing of a 13-year-old boy last month along the Tama River in Kawasaki has admitted to harming the victim but said he was only following the orders of an older teenager also in custody, investigative sources said Thursday.

Three male teenagers were arrested last Friday on suspicion of killing Ryota Uemura beside the Tama River on Feb. 20. The older teen, 18, is thought to be the leader of the group.

Uemura’s unclothed body was found abandoned on the riverbank with a number of slash wounds, including to his throat and neck. An autopsy found the first-year junior high school student bled to death.

The 18-year-old has indicated he was the ringleader in the slaying, the sources said. They quoted him as saying, “I used a box cutter to kill him.”

The 17-year-old in question has told investigators he was present at the site when Uemura was still alive but that the older boy told him to leave and he complied.

The 18-year-old then texted him to return, and when he reached the riverbank he discovered Uemura lying on the ground, bleeding, the sources said.

Admitting involvement, the 17-year-old has said: “I slashed at (the victim) because (the 18-year-old) said I should do it, too,” according to the sources.

The other 17-year-old suspect has also hinted at complicity, but police are proceeding with the investigation carefully because some of the suspects’ accounts appear to conflict.

As to a motive, the police are looking into the possibility that the 18-year-old resented Uemura’s popularity with his friends.

According to the sources, Uemura’s friends visited the 18-year-old’s home on Feb. 12 to protest after he attacked the boy in mid-January.

“I resented the fact that so many people gathered for (Uemura),” the leader was quoted as telling investigators.

The names of the three suspects are being withheld because they are minors.

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