Sagamihara Massacre: 6 Months On

Original text: 殺傷事件から半年 元職員は障害者冒とくの供述続ける (NHK)

NHK

January 26th 2017

It is six months since the incident that 46 people were injured or killed at a residential care facility for the intellectual disabled in Sagamihara city. 

A 27-year-old former employee was arrested on suspicion of homicide, he had made statements against disabled people, the suspect is currently undergoing psychological evaluation. Prosecutors are expected to decide next month whether or not he can face trial on the basis of that assessment.

In this incident, the residents were stabbed one after another with a knife at the entrance facility “Miyuki Tsukui” in the Midori ward of Sagamihara-city in the early hours of July 26th, 19 people died, 27 people were seriously injured. Former employee of the facility, Satoshi Uematsu (27), has been arrested for killing 19 people. In addition, charges of attempted murder of the 24 people he injured is being explored, and the suspect is currently undergoing psychological evaluation.

According to previous investigation, Uematsu was suspected that dangerous behavior against disabled people from January to February of last year, since five months before the incident, he wrote letters to Chairman of the House of Representatives, justifying the killing of disabled people

Uematsu has allegedly insisted that claims he killed made by the investigation are false, according to the investigative officials, saying “I do not know” etc. An expert appraisal on his mental health is scheduled for next month 20th, and after which prosecution is expected to decide whether to indict him.

Family society president remarks

Kazumasa Otsuki, president of the family association ‘Midori-kai’ of ‘Tsukui Yamayuri Garden’, answers the interview for the first time based on the thoughts of the bereaved family who are still unable to organize their minds even after half a year since the incident It was. Mr. Otsuki said, “I attended the funeral of the deceased people and talked with the bereaved families, but when I think of why this happened and I was feeling unhappy about the people who lost their lives, it was really regrettable I could not do it. ”

In addition, I introduced an episode at a farewell party opened only by the people concerned and said, “From one bereaved family, I heard that my intention to protect my older sister in my family actually was supported by my sister, and like a treasure In the meantime, there was a story saying that I had raised a story saying that when I remember the incident, some people said that I do not want to hear the word “Yamayuri Garden”, but I feel unbelievable if I think about the feelings of the bereaved families who have lost an important family “I said. About six months since the incident the 19 people still have been anonymous, “I think that  there are various reasons, but all the bereaved families lost their irreplaceable family, and still cannot deal with it emotionally, I think that their desire to live quietly is also strong. Since my son also suffered damage, I can understand the feelings of the bereaved family, the time to tell may come I will answer, “Is not it a bit more time required for it?” I also heard about injuries and others who are currently being divided among several facilities and that they are living, “I heard stories that people who were burned hated being brought into contact with their bodies after the incident, and injuries I think that people who did not do it also made me scared. I want everyone to send me away from this uneasy life in an unfamiliar environment and return me to the calm original life as soon as possible.

Dentsu and Sagamihara: A Tale of the Japanese Media’s Reporting of Two Crimes

On December 18th of last year, the Kanagawa Prefecture police sent evidence to prosecutors for 24 counts of attempted murder against Satoshi Uematsu. Uematsu, a former employee at the Tsukui Yamayuri En, a care facility for the intellectually disabled in Sagamihara city, Kanagawa Prefecture, is alleged to have killed 19 residents and injured 27 others in the early morning of July 26th 2016. On December 26th, NHK reported that the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility decided to remove the flower bed memorial to the victims of the killings; only five months after the killings took place. As the memorial was dismantled, the facility’s Director General said:

“All of the staff from the bottom of our hearts thank you for the flowers and gifts. I am hoping to encourage business with my warmest feelings for everyone in mind. We are preparing for temporary relocation to Yokohama; we are working on preparations now. We will continue to work hard from now on, so that all employees can return to their normal life as soon as possible” he said. I sincerely pray for the repose of the lost 19 people, I pray from the bottom of my heart.”

It seems December was a bad time for companies in Japan. Along with the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility and its troubles, there was also Dentsu, an advertising company who’s President, Tadashi Ishii, resigned in December, a year after an employee, Matsuri Takahashi committed suicide. According to The Japan Times, Ishii at a press conference as he announced his resignation said the following:

“We deeply regret failing to prevent the overwork of our new recruit. I offer my sincere apology…Although we took various countermeasures, the issue of overwork has not been improved. I will take full responsibility.”

The killings at the Sagamihara care facility and the suicide of one overworked employee may not at first appear similar. In the Dentsu case, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare, suspected Dentsu, and specifically of Takahashi’s supervisor of breaking the Labor Standards Law by making her work long hours. The Sagamihara incident seems to be an attack by a mentally unstable man against the residents and some of the staff.

However, when looked at more closely, there are similarities to be found in both incidents. In respect to the Sagamihara killings, according to a widely distributed Kyodo News report, an investigation by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government into the incident concluded that the facility:

”..acted “extremely inappropriately” in failing to share knowledge that may have affected the lives of its residents. The report went on to assert that:

“If the information had been shared with the prefecture, the damage could have been avoided…If the facility had reported to the prefecture, security equipment or security personnel could have been bolstered. There was a problem in its crisis management”

Regarding the Sagamihara killings and the Dentsu suicide, it seems at the very least, that in both cases, the deaths may have been prevented by respective company’s management making different decisions. Dentsu literally worked Matsuri Takahashi to death, and even if it was an unintended failure to implement proper working practices, what happened to Takahashi at Dentsu appears to be a proximate cause of her death. In the case of the Sagamihara killings, the decision of the management at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility not to increase security after Uematsu made his threats seems, at the very least, to have made the attack easier to carry out.

Much of media coverage about the Sagamihara killings from the Japanese media is troubling. So much of the media has focused on the suspect Uematsu’s alleged mental illness, and uses the Sagamihara incident to highlight the plight of the mentally ill. Highlighting the issue of mental illness in Japan is a laudable goal of course, but focusing on it in this case, draws attention away from the victims of the attack, victims the Kanagawa police refuse to name reportedly at the request of the victims family. As Kazuhiro Nozawa, an editor for The Mainichi stated:

”The suspect in the Sagamihara case saw the exhausted guardians of handicapped residents at Yamayuri En, came to think that disabled people “can only lead to unhappiness” and came to the conclusion that such people should be euthanized. Although his idea is absurdly twisted, there is no denying that his sympathy with the guardians of handicapped people forms part of the basis for his idea. News reports on the incident are also based largely on sympathy with the guardians of the victims.”

The media’s preoccupation with the suspect’s possible mental illness and sympathy for the victim’s family moves attention away from the team management team and their share of responsibility for the killings, only The Mainchi seems to want to talk about the actual victims of the attack. In the Dentsu scandal, due to public and legal pressure, the President of the company resigned, taking full responsibility for the actions of the company that led to Takahashi’s suicide. No similar kind of pressure from the media seems to have be applied in the Sagamihara killings, the same principal management team at the Tsukui Yamayuri En care facility in Sagamihara seems to remain place, despite an investigation by Kanagawa Prefecture Government that found the facility’s actions over the incident to be “”extremely inappropriate”. The only real notable difference between the two cases seems to be that in one incident the victims were disabled and in the other she was not.

 

Sagamihara massacre: 46 attempted killings, prosecutors make request for extension of detention 

Original source: 相模原46人殺傷事件、鑑定留置の延長請求へ

TBS news 16th January 2017

In the case of 46 people who  were killed or injured at the disabled facility “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” in Sagamihara City, the Yokohama District Public Prosecutors’ Office decided to request an extension of “appraisal detention” to examine the mental state of a man of the former employee arrested. 

Satoshi Uematsu (26), a former employee who was arrested for suspicion of homicide and the like, was detained for appraisal from September last year.

Although the appointment detention was scheduled until 23th this month, it was confirmed that the Yokohama District Prosecutors’ Office decided to make a request for extension so the doctor can continue assess his mental health.  The Yokohama District Prosecution is expected to request an extension until the 20th of next month, and if the court approves it will be decided whether to prosecute after February. 

Draft reconstruction plan for disabled facilities Kanagawa Prefecture

Original source: http://mainichi.jp/articles/20170107/k00/00m/040/035000c

Mainichi Newspaper January 6, 2017

Kanagawa Prefecture

Kanagawa Prefecture announced a plan to rebuild the prefectural facility for the disabled “Tsukui Yamayuri-en” in Sagamihara city, where a killing incident occurred in July of last year. To further interaction with the community, the gates and fences around the entrance to the park will be removed, so the residents can come and go with ease. It is hoped the facility will be rebuilt by 2020.

The new facility will be set up with cameras and buzzers with sensors interlocked with security companies as measures to prevent crime. Since the city is in the prefecture’s industrial zones, the facility will also consider introducing security patrols and technology to monitor the environment.