Akihabara killer gets death penalty

Tomohiro Kato was sentenced to death in the Tokyo District Court today. In 2008, Kato drove a truck into a crowd in Tokyo's Akihabara district before continuing his murder spree with a knife in 2008.

Kato's spree left 17 dead and many more injured. After the incident many in the Japanese media blamed videogames, manga, anime, and other forms of entertainment popular in Akihabara. In response, police opened the neighborhood’s main street to traffic (it had previously been closed on Sundays for otaku to gather in what was called 'pedestrian paradise.')

Kato, from Aomori in the north of Japan, discussed his plans to 'kill people in Akihabara.' online before the attack. The incident raised awareness of such messages online. Since then, numerous individuals have been arrested after making similar threats.

Kato will be held in solitary confinement under bright florescent lights for 24 hours a day until he is sent to the gallows (all executions in Japan are carried out by hanging). The wait takes six years on average, but in some cases lasts longer than thirty depending on the appeals process. Executions in Japan are carried out in secret and without warning. Prisoners are not informed of their hanging until minutes beforehand.

[Source: Asahi (Japanese)]

Mar 24, 2011

Got a news tip? Let us know at


  • theguyinthecloset - March 26, 2011 11:45 p.m.

    wait isn't that considered mental torture? I thought it was illegal. Or maybe they didn't sign whatever treaty that was ...or whatever, I don't get international politics!
  • BrianDowns - March 26, 2011 12:06 a.m.

    In my opinion, the guy is getting what he deserves. I'd go with a more severe method of punishment but I guess with the isloation and 24 hour lighting he'll be smearing his own shit on the walls in no time. Justice.
  • AimlessBlock - March 25, 2011 9:01 p.m.

    With all this talk of dead loved ones and having people killed I'm thinking about 'Law Abiding Citizen'
  • aliengmr - March 25, 2011 8:21 p.m.

    The death penalty is worthless. It takes too much time and is far too expensive (compared to life in prison because of appeals) and there is no benefit to the larger community. Most cases aren't as clear cut as this, so one can only speculate about how many innocent people have been put to death even with all the costly appeals. Then after all that more money and time is spent coming up with "humane" (if taking a life can be considered humane) ways to kill the person and making sure no single person has to push the kill button. So what is the death penalty really worth? Since the quick and cheap way opens the door even wider for the innocent to be wrongfully put to death, the safe way ends up costing more money and time than a life term and the safe way still doesn't guarantee that an innocent person won't be put to death; then why have it at all? And if you seriously think the death penalty is a deterrent, then why are people still sentenced to death? If it isn't a deterrent then why pay they extra money for it? Even if you can morally justify legally taking a person's life, is it worth all the extra effort and risk?
  • ventanger - March 25, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    It's inhumane not to execute remorseless pre-meditated convicted murderers. Anti-death penalty zealots think they're the lone voice of reason and compassion, when they actually PROMOTE murder with their completely factless, unexplored, unintellectual, purely emotional gut reaction. I'm glad that even in a country that's to the left of the U.S., they're still not as batshit crazy as say, the Dutch, who set convicted murderers free because "they might die from cancer later".
  • shaft121 - March 25, 2011 5:18 p.m.

    Tenuous link to videogames is tenuous
  • ChrisCultista - March 25, 2011 4:28 p.m.

    Of course it was the anime/manga/video games, it couldn't be that Japanese people eat crazy shit like poisonous blow fish, or fugu if Japanese words give you a boner. It couldn't be that you can buy a used pair of schoolgirl panties from a vending machine. Couldn't be the rampant pedo problem, or the fact that, in genera, you can get away with doing any of the creepy fetishes you want, as long as you go through that do in the back ally. Also, if video games and anime cause people to go crazy, and kill people, wouldn't Japan have like 3 people left.
  • silvereye - March 25, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    I have to agree with Cory in all honesty, I'm just happy Britian doesn't have the death penalty (although polls suggest many still want it back, I hope that never happens...)
  • Sharkbot - March 25, 2011 3:20 p.m.

    LOL to the guy who said American prisoners have it bad. We have probably one of the most leineint prison systems in the world. Our prison is paradise compared to other countries, and I'm not shitting you. In Swiss, they get 1 small french loaf of bread and a glass of water for the day
  • SonyBacker - March 25, 2011 2:31 p.m.

    Damn, what games, anime and manga was he into, that sounds heavy might invest in that stuff, if they were any of naruto garbage, i would go batshit crazy too, stick to dragonball z or geisar at least... captcha: Anal still
  • Tangerine - March 25, 2011 10:16 a.m.

    Holy crap! This 24 hours of bright light a day deal is insane! But he deserves this for what he did.
  • CoryM1134 - March 25, 2011 5:43 a.m.

    Killing people is wrong. Fucking period.
  • Overlord153 - March 25, 2011 4:40 a.m.

    I personally think the death penalty an easy way out.I personally there should be three diferent ways to deal with the person. 1 They person should be dropped in the middle of the desert with no clothes,food, or water. 2 You hear of the movie Death Race? In Real life you don't get out you stay until you die. 3.Make them play the virtual boy for 24 hours a day while being harvested like the little sisters in Bioshock.
  • RebornKusabi - March 25, 2011 4:24 a.m.

    I'm sorry, but I agree with this method. No amount of pain, sadness, isolation and especially lack of humanity to this piece of shit will be able to revive or bring back any ONE person he murdered in cold blood. Regardless of motivation or pathos that he chose to characterize or rationalize his sick, corrupted methods, the fact remains that someones son, mother, daughter or father... Hell, even their friends or lovers, are gone from this Earth. They will never come back, they will never be around and depending on your religious leanings, they will never find peace or reconciliation. No amount of punishment or pain this man receives can equate to the feeling of losing a loved one to such barbaric actions. It's simple "cause and effect"; he CHOSE to murder those people and the effects of his actions have far-outreaching ramifications for every one involved in his insanity. Right or wrong, humane or barbaric, insane or sane, his fucked up moral allowed him to end a human beings life. Hang the scumbag. Make him suffer because he deserves to be erased from this worlds overall equation BECAUSE he is simply unfit to exist here.
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - March 25, 2011 4:22 a.m.

    Damn straight. Let that crazy fucker stew for a while. Oddly, as much as I consider myself more of a left-winger in most cases, I'm all for the death penalty, especially when you get 'interesting' additions like what the Japs do here.
  • PCGErik - March 25, 2011 3:09 a.m.

    I understand this is important news, but why is it on Games Radar? It feels out of place.
  • dcbernman - March 25, 2011 2:54 a.m.

    I don't know, I think anyone can be pushed past their limit. While many murder cases are related to mental instability, I'm sure that there are some people of sane origin. Sometimes, the world doles out more pain to specific people, and when they snap, nobody can vouch for them, for who can represent the world and chance itself? Japan's culture has always struck me as fascinating because it was so bizarre. Their treatment of those sentenced for death also perplexes me... Why anyone would taunt a dangerous, caged animal even further seems counter intuitive to me. In any case, I don't understand who people are referring to when they say "bad people." We're all bad people part time. Probably more often than we realize, and maybe even more often than we are "good." The fact that certain individuals cross the line, sane or otherwise, is used as an excuse to distance ourselves from those we consider to be the lowest of the low, to raise ourselves up to a higher moral standard. That's rather childish, I think. Haven't you ever wanted to kill someone, even if it was only for a flash of a moment? All of us are survivors. When threatened enough (or when we feel threatened, even without legitimate cause), we will abandon what we believe to make us right and good, sometimes without fully realizing it. Fortunately, we have society to thank for helping us better contain our own inner demons... but even then, there are limitations. While I don't disagree with the death penalty, I believe our philosophy for the walking dead is warped and twisted for such a modern society. We should see them as our personal failure for not being able to save them as others may have saved us. Call me a romantic idealist, I must certainly be one, but since there was some interesting dialogue going on as it was, I thought I'd join in. My point? Dunno. We're ALL psycho killers :D We're all in this shit together!
  • HawkeyedAntista - March 25, 2011 2:36 a.m.

    On the subject on the death penalty itself, how's about a third option? Banish them to an inescapable island with only the means to scrape by a living through agriculture? Makes it so you don't have to pay for them to continue to live, and you get 'em out of the country, but don't have to actually kill them. Win-win, in my opinion.
  • Heyexclamationpoint - March 25, 2011 2:09 a.m.

    "Why lights 24 hours a day?" I'm guessing that it is a form of torture. Just imagine having to sit in a room for the rest of your natural life and the lights never, ever go out. You'd never know what time it is, your body's natural clock would go haywire. You'd go absolutely insane. And just when you think it can't get worse, the door opens after years of the mental anguish and someone tells you that it's now time to die. Is it cruel? Yes it is. Am I against it? Not in the slightest. Once you've made the decision to kill someone, I don't care about your rights anymore.
  • Marcunio88 - March 25, 2011 1:56 a.m.

    The death penalty is a very difficult issue. On the one side I think that the guilt you would feel living out the rest of your life is far worse than getting a quick death. But if you're so disturbed that you can commit a crime like this are you going to feel that guilt? Personally I don't think anyone should have the power to decide whether someone lives or dies though, it's the 21'st century we're better than that. Anyone capable of doing something like this clearly has serious mental issues. The media is always too quick to blame popular entertainment for these kind of crimes. We should be looking at the real problem of how someone who is clearly not right in the head has managed to slip through the cracks in the developed worlds social care system. Killing someone for their crimes is easy, trying to actually solve the problems that cause these crimes is really bloody hard. We didn't get this far by taking the easy road so lets not give up now.

Showing 1-20 of 39 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000