Sunday, December 6, 2015

“Girl A” / “Nevada Tan” / “Sasebo Slasher”: 11-Year-Old Murderess – Japan, 2004

Wikipedia:  The Sasebo slashing was the murder of a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl, Satomi Mitarai, by an 11-year-old female classmate. Reactions to the incident have included internet memes and a discussion of lowering the age of criminal responsibility in Japan.

The murder occurred on June 1, 2004 at an elementary school in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, and involved slitting of Mitarai’s throat and arms with a utility knife.

The killer’s real name has not been released to the press, as per Japanese legal procedures prohibiting the identification of juvenile offenders. Japanese police referred to her as “Girl A.” The Nagasaki District Legal Affairs Bureau cautioned internet users against their revealing her photos.

~ Murder ~

On June 1, 2004, the 11-year-old schoolgirl murdered her 12-year-old classmate, Satomi Mitarai, in an empty classroom during the lunch hour at Okubo Elementary School in Sasebo. She then left Mitarai’s body and returned to her own classroom, her clothes covered in blood. The girls’ teacher, who had noticed that both were missing, found the body and called the police.

After being taken into custody, she was reported to have confessed to the crime, saying “I am sorry, I am sorry” to police. She spent the night at the police station, often crying, and refused to eat snacks she was offered. Eventually, she ate bread and drank fruit juice. She initially mentioned no motive for the killing. Shortly afterward, she confessed to police that she and Mitarai had quarreled as a result of messages left on the Internet. She claimed that Mitarai slandered her by commenting on her weight and calling her a “goody-goody.”

On September 15, 2004, a Japanese Family Court ruled to institutionalize her, putting aside her young age because of the severity of the crime. She was sent to a reformatory in Tochigi prefecture. The Nagasaki family court in 2004 originally sentenced her to two years of involuntary commitment, but the sentence was extended by two years in September 2006. On May 29, 2008, local authorities announced that they did not seek an additional sentence.

~ Reaction ~

The killing provoked a debate in Japan whether the age of criminal responsibility, lowered from 16 to 14 in 2000 due to the 1997 Kobe child murders, needed to be lowered again. The killer was considered normal before the incident, which made the public more anxious.

Members of the Japanese Diet, such as Kiichi Inoue and Sadakazu Tanigaki, came under criticism for comments made in the wake of the killing. Inoue was criticized for referring to Girl A as genki (vigorous, lively), a word with positive connotations. Sadakazu Tanigaki was criticized for referring to the method of killing, slitting of the throat, as a “manly” crime.

The killer became the subject of an Internet meme on Japanese web communities such as 2channel. She was nicknamed “Nevada-tan” because a class photograph showed a girl believed to be her wearing a University of Nevada, Reno sweatshirt.

Akio Mori cited this case in support of his controversial “game brain” theory, which has been criticized as a superstition. The killer was reported to be a fan of the death-themed flash animation “Red Room,” a claim used in support of the theory. It was also known that she had read the controversial novel Battle Royale and had seen its film adaptation, which centers on young students fighting to the death.

At the March 18, 2005 Okubo Elementary graduation, students were given a graduation album with a blank page in which they could put pictures of Mitarai, the killer, or class pictures containing both, in honor of Mitarai’s death. Mitarai was posthumously awarded a graduation certificate, which her father accepted on her behalf. The killer was also awarded a certificate, as one is required in Japan in order to enter junior high school, and the school believed it would aid her “reintegration into society.”

[“Sasebo slashing,” Wikipedia, accessed Dec. 6, 2015]



More cases: Youthful Borgias: Girls Who Commit Murder


1 comment:

  1. This is an academic sense, rather than a morbid one. I feel personally uncomfortable with such a long sentence for someone so young, as missing out on four years on childhood is so damaging to her future opportunities. On the flip side, the legal consequences to murder have obviously got to be severe.