National / Social Issues

Grisly Zama murders prompt government brainstorming over new suicide-prevention measures


The government has decided to draw up a range of measures by year’s end to prevent further cases similar to the serial killings in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, that targeted young people with an interest in suicide.

The government will also discuss whether to regulate Twitter posts, noting that some steps might be put in place before the entire package of measures is compiled.

“I want each relevant minister to exercise leadership so that the government can unite to take measures to prevent similar cases,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday during a meeting of key Cabinet members.

Suga instructed the ministers to fully investigate the case, share information, strengthen measures against “inappropriate” websites and posts related to suicide, while also beefing up mental health care for young people who express suicidal thoughts online.

Other participants included National Public Safety Commission Chairman Hachiro Okonogi, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda, and Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Bureau-chief-level officials from the ministries and agencies concerned will meet next week to discuss specific measures.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, was arrested last month in Zama on suspicion of abandoning bodies after police found the body parts of nine people in his apartment.

The police now plan to serve a fresh arrest warrant to Shiraishi over their murders. Shiraishi has admitted to killing all nine, sources said.

Shiraishi, who reportedly worked in the sex industry as a tout, used Twitter to contact people who had expressed suicidal thoughts over social media to invite them to his apartment. He claimed that he was also considering killing himself and had expertise in how to do so, but told the police during questioning that he was lying and that none of the people he allegedly killed actually wanted to die.