Akihabara killer gets death penalty

Sentencing handed out nearly three years after Tomohiro Kato’s murder spree

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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

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