National / Crime & Legal

Mother reveals name of 19-year-old victim in 2016 Sagamihara care home murders

JIJI, Kyodo

The mother of a woman killed in the 2016 attack on a care home in eastern Japan for people with intellectual disabilities disclosed the name of her then-19-year-old daughter before the trial of the accused in the case began Wednesday.

In the trial, victims are described using terms such as “Ko” and “Otsu,” the Japanese equivalents to “A” and “B,” out of consideration for the victims and their family members.

The girl’s mother expressed discomfort with the proceedings. “My daughter is neither Ko nor Otsu, but her name is Miho,” she said. “Miho lived her life with all her energy. I want to leave that mark,” the mother said.

According to a note released by the girl’s mother, Miho — who was diagnosed with autism — lived at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Miho liked trains and animation, and was good at winning the hearts of others to make friends, according to the note. “I had thought my daughter would live with staff members watching over her,” the mother said.

In the first hearing in his trial at the Yokohama District Court, the 29-year-old accused, Satoshi Uematsu, admitted to the attack, which killed 19 people and injured 26 others. But his defense team argued that he was not criminally responsible for his actions.

Miho’s mother expressed hope that the trial would not only deliver a sentence but would lead to discussions on ways to avoid a repeat of a similar incident.

“I believe that a society in which people with disabilities can live in peace is one that healthy people are also happy to live in,” she said.

A recent survey by Kyodo News found differing views among family members of the victims and of residents over maintaining anonymity in the trial.

Two of four bereaved family members among the 25 respondents said they wished to stay anonymous, while the other two did not give responses to that question.

One of the respondents said revealing names was “frightening, as we may face discrimination.”

Of the remaining 21 respondents, who included family members of those injured as well as residents not involved in the attack, nine supported anonymity and eight opposed it.