The killer placed the severed head of his 11-year-old victim before the gate of a junior high school in Kobe and swooned in ecstasy.
“Let me confess something: I thought the sight was a beauty,” writes Seito Sakakibara, the pseudonym of a former juvenile serial killer jailed for some of the most notorious murders of recent times.
“I felt like I was born just to see the ethereal beauty of what was in front of my eyes. I thought I could die.”
So recalls Sakakibara, in a controversial autobiography released Wednesday, in which he expresses regret for his actions in Kobe in 1997 but relates his actions in such detail that readers may be left wondering about his true feelings.
Sakakibara, who is now 32 and whose real name has not been revealed, killed two children and injured three others in attacks that terrorized the nation and triggered calls for tighter punishment for underage offenders. The juvenile crime law was stiffened in response.
In the book titled “Zekka,” a coined term that makes little sense in Japanese, the author says that as a teenager he was an “incorrigible sexual deviant” who had taken grim satisfaction in dissecting animals and, ultimately, killing fellow human beings.
“When I advanced to junior high school, I had already become bored of killing cats, and gradually found myself fantasizing about how it would feel to murder human beings like me,” he said.
At the age of 14, he strangled and eventually decapitated 11-year-old acquaintance Jun Hase on the slopes of a nearby mountain in May 1997. He then carried the boy’s head into the bathroom at his home, where he locked himself in and committed a deed “far more heinous than murder.”
Sakakibara served time in a medical reformatory for juveniles and upon his release in 2004 earned a living as a day laborer, he said.
In an epilogue, the author speaks of guilt that plagues him today and offers an apology for relatives of his victims, saying he now recognizes the gravity of what he did.
“I couldn’t keep quiet about my past anymore. I had to write. Otherwise, I thought I would go insane,” he said.
Mamoru Hase, the father of Jun Hase, has reportedly called for the book’s withdrawal.
“The book completely trampled on our feelings. It is clear that he is not sorry for what he did,” Japanese media quoted him as saying.
Misa Ochiai, editor in charge of Ota Publishing Co., said the company went ahead with the project because it deemed the killer’s account all the more important to place in the public record amid heightened concerns over the severity of juvenile crimes of late.
Although aware that the book would trigger a backlash from the victims’ families, Ochiai said she believes the book will benefit society.
“It’s almost unprecedented that a former juvenile offender himself recounts first-hand the details of his own crime in such a public manner,” Ochiai said. “We firmly believe his tale is worth a read in many ways.”