• SHARE

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday sentenced a man dubbed Japan’s “Twitter killer” to death for the 2017 serial murders of nine people who posted suicidal thoughts on social media.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, was found guilty in the high-profile case by the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court of murdering, dismembering and storing the bodies of the nine in his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Consent was the major point of contention in the trial. Prosecutors argued that there was no way the victims consented to being killed based on Shiraishi’s testimony that they resisted when being strangled. The defense team countered that they only did so due to their “conditional reflexes.”

Nine dismembered bodies found In Tokyo apartment: Japan has rare serial killer on its hands (October 2017) | TIME
Nine dismembered bodies found In Tokyo apartment: Japan has rare serial killer on its hands (October 2017) | TIME

Fast-forward three years from Shiraishi’s heinous crimes and the number of people taking their own lives in Japan is rising. In November, suicides increased 11.3% from a year earlier to 1,798, up for the fifth straight month, as the pandemic exacerbates existing concerns such as poverty and domestic abuse.

But some demographics are being hit harder than others. As Michael Hoffman notes in his Big in Japan column, female suicide is sharply increasing while the rate among males is relatively stable. What is evoking this new despair in women?

And even before the virus hit, the number of suicides among the under-20s was on an upward trajectory. In 2019, deaths by suicide among this age group rose 10%, to 659, the highest level since 2000, while the number dropped for older people.

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)