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:

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.

Five months after killing at facility for the disabled the dedicated memorial flower bed is removed

Source material: “障害者施設殺傷事件から5か月 献花台を撤去”

Five months after killing at facility for the disabled the dedicated memorial flower bed is removed
December 26th at 17:54


In July, 19 people were killed at the facility for the intellectually disabled in Sagamihara City, and 27 people were injured. 5 months after the incident, on the 26th December, the dedication flower board that was set up at the scene of the crime was removed.

At Tsukui Yamayuri Garden in Sagamihara City, in the early morning of July 26, 19 people were killed, including residents being stabbed with a knife, 27 people including staff injured seriously.

The dedication flower table established in front of the main gate of the facility, people who mourn for the victims have come all over the country everyday, but the facility side said five cases from the incident as “it is necessary to move on from the incident. On the 26th, I decided to remove the flower arrangement table.

People listened to a reminder of the removal from the morning in the morning were constantly visiting the facility and around 50 bouquets were handed over on the 26th. 

And after 4 p.m., the staff of the facility including facility staff including Kagoru Kagoru of “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” removed the flower bed and flower bouquet after the last flower arrangement offering was accepted.

Takeshi Inukura said, “We have provided flowers and gifts to the place where the victims were living, I pray from the bottom of my heart for the death of the 19 people who died.” He was tearfully whilst talking.

At “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” if there is requests are made in advance even after 27th, it is possible to accept an an offering of a flower arrangement in the facility.

Director General “All officials a heartfelt thank you”

After the dedication flower bed was removed, Kaoru Kagoru, head of the “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” responded to the press coverage.

Director Tamura told the people who visited the donation flowers “All of the staff from the bottom of my heart I thank you from the bottom of my heart that the flowers and gifts I have kept from you are presenting to the place where the victims were living. I am hoping to encourage business with my warmest feelings from everyone in mind. ”

Regarding the future operation of the facility, “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.

Finally, he said, “I sincerely pray for the repose of the lost 19 people, I pray from the bottom of my heart.

Family meeting “Lifetime forget”

The removal of the dedication flower board President Kazumasa Otsuki of the meeting made by the family of residents of the “Tsukui Yamayuri Garden” said that “Many people thought that they came to the dedication flower bed due to unbearable feelings I will not forget the dedicated flower like the mountain that I received, I will take over to Tsukui Yamayuri Garden which has regenerated my thoughts Thank you very much. ”

Continuous flowers on the final day
At Tsukui Yamayuri Garden in Sagamihara City, people who knew that the flower arrangement platform would be removed on 26th were visited one after the other and turned flowers.
A local office worker said, “I saw that the flower arrangement was removed in the news of this morning.When I think of the deceased people and the bereaved families, there is no word, I can only turn flowers I thought it was, and I came with my colleagues at my work place. ”

A woman in Tokyo and Koto wards who volunteered and had activities to interact with people with disabilities said, “I’ve been on a dedication flower many times according to the day when the incident happened. I think that there should be something in place to communicate “.

“We will not forget the incident and replace the flower stall”

Yuka Tanaka (46) who lives in Musashino City, Tokyo, visited the donation flower bed together with Mr. Kazuya son (17) with severe intellectual disability.
It is the fifth visit to the dedication flower board on the 26th, and Yuka could not accept Kazuya’s disability before, but sometimes it severely touched, but as you see the growth of Kazuya, the obstacle is It is said that it seems to be one of the personality.

The mountain climbing that had come to flee from fighting against obstacles once became a common hobby of the two people, and I crossed the mountain on 26th and walked from the city and came.

Mr. Tanaka said, “Although I remembered myself that I could not accept obstacles due to the incident, I was coming to the dedication flower table to organize that feeling.I want to keep coming here from now on Since things that I do not forget are important, I want another person to come up with a new alternative to the dedication flower stand in order to have those who came to remember the incident. ”

Former employee “I want to collect the living proof of 19 people”
Previously, former employee Akira Ota and Junji Nishi Kami who had worked at the facility also visited the donation flowers. The two gathered together and handed the flowers to the flower arrangement table and then hands up, and Mr. Ota said that he memorialized while telling the late 19 people.
Mr. Ota said, “This accident happened and I feel a responsibility as a former employee, because I thought that Donghae Tower did not forget the incident, it was a symbol for not weathering, so in the future I will replace the dedication flower stand I think that it is necessary to create a place to memorize. ”

Mr. Nishikaga also said, “Do not forget the dead, we put our hands together with the feeling that we will not whether the incident .I think that there is a danger that the incident will weather due to the loss of the flower arrangement table, I would like to collect the living testimony of the 19 people who died. ”

Assisting organizations request the installation of “memorial monuments”

Approximately 20 members of organizations made up by disabled people and supporters who visited Tsukui Yamayuri-en in Sagamihara City on 26th, visiting the facility side handed out a request form.

Among them, we request that a memorial monument be set up in place of the dedicated flower bed so that the memory that the 19 precious lives were deprived by the incident will not be lost among people.

 Akihiko Yoshida of Kobe City who has a mental disorder in his own way and who is a caller of the activity said, “The facility side says” Because we are going to move forward with breaks “about the reasons for removal of the dedication flower bed, we should never let the case weather I would like you to have a long and long memorial occasion. “

Police Seek Charges of 24 Counts of Attempted Murder for Former Employee of Care Facility for the Disabled in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture

Original source NHK Web (In Japanese,  the article title has been altered for the translated version): ‘障害者殺傷事件 24人殺人未遂容疑で元職員を追送検’:

December 19th 2016

46 people were attacked at the facility for the intellectual disabled in Sagamihara City in July, police said a former employee was initially arrested for killing 19 inhabitants, the suspect stabbed his victims with a knife in attempt to kill them, and on 19th the police passed information to prosecutors for 24 counts of attempted murder.

In this incident, which occurred in the early morning of July 26, the residents were stabbed with knives one after another at the “Mt. Tsukui Yamayurien” facility for the intellectually disabled in the Midori ward of Sagamihara City. 19 people died and 27 people were injured. A former employee of the facility, Satoshi Uematsu (26) was initially arrested for killing 19 residents, and Uematsu is currently undergoing psychiatric evaluation. Uematsu allegedly infiltrated the facility with five blades, tied up officials, and is believed to have stabbed the residents one after another.

According to the investigation, Uematsu suspects that “disabled people can only be unhappy, so they should die.”
The police have not publicly announced the names of the victims who died since the families does not wish it, however of the 24 injured people, two names have been released with the consent of the family: Kazuya Ono (43) who was seriously injured and. Koji Morohashi (43), who received a slight injury.

“My son has a name”

The 76 year old mother of Koji Morohashi, who was injured in the incident, said about releasing his name, “My son did not do bad things and has a proper name. For myself, I wish talk about my family and I decided to make his name public. ”
She continued; “My son seems to be troubled by the incident, such as by making a loud voice” and “in the middle of the night he would get angry about the incident, but now the wound has healed, he was able to return to the facility, Uematsu is absolutely unforgivable. ” Mr. Tsuyoshi Ozano, 73, the father of Mr. Kazuya Ono, who was seriously injured in the incident, said, “There are people who desire the publication of names of the victims and people who do not,” Some families have disabled family members, I think that there are also people who do not make it public. I think that my son’s personality disorder is nothing to be ashamed of and I speak to you to call the for world’s understanding to change.

“It is necessary to think about balance for each case”

Kanagawa Prefectural Police has not announced the name of 19 resident people who were killed in this case. It explains that it is the strong wishes of families that their names not be announced. On the other hand, with regard to the 24 injured people, the police confirmed their intention to prosecute for their being attacked to their families, and the real names of Mr. Ono and Mr. Morohashi have been announced along with the names, gender and ages of the other 22 injured victims, with the permission of their families.
The police explained when making this information public, that the some of the names of the victims are their real names and others are anonymous because some of the families of the victims requested that their privacy be respected.

Is it just that it happened in Japan?

It is now six days since Satoshi Uematsu killed 19 people, and injured 26 others at the Tsukui Yamayuri-en care home for the intellectually disabled in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. The last few days has been emotional time for me since I live in Japan, have cerebral palsy and am married to a Japanese woman who also has cerebral palsy. We are both academics who write about disability.

It is difficult to know how to respond Uematsu’s killing of disabled people, and I feel that any response is inadequate. What can you say when so many disabled people have been killed or injured. I am not capable of writing anything meaningful that can somehow explain what Uematsu did.

However, a day or so after July 26th – the day of the attack – several friends of mine, friends who are part of the disability community both in the UK and the USA began making posts about how the Sagamihara killings were not be being discussed as a disability hate crime. They are alleging that the issue is simply not being discussed.  It is true to say that are some in Japan who ask why the names of the victims are not being printed. The Sankei Shimbun highlighted the fact that Tsukui police decided not to release the names of the victims. I do wonder why the Tsukui police made the decision not to release the names of the victims, if this was a case of ‘simple’ murder, I’m sure the names of attacker and victim would be printed.

However, the Sagamihara attack by Satoshi Uematsu, as a disability hate crime, is being discussed in Japan. Many do wonder why the names of the victims are not being released, as the Sankei Shimbun article makes clear.  The NHK disability TV programme, NHK Baribara TV show hosted by people with disabilities – I have in fact been on the show – will discuss the Sagamihara attacks on a show on August 7th on channel NHK E.

Japan and the world at large could of course, talk about disability more, but I remain unconvinced that the reason the attacks in Sagamihara are not discussed outside of Japan, are, as some allege because of some anti-disability bias in the press, although I do wonder why the names of the victims are withheld by the police. The truth may be much simpler: Unless it is about a typhoon, an earthquake, or can be put under the ‘weird Japan’ category of news (which usually involves robots, sex, or a combination of the two), Japan is rarely talked about in the press outside of Japan. It could be that there is no ‘silence’ on the issue of disability hate crime in the Japanese media, there may however, be a general silence about news from Japan in media published outside of Japan that does not fit neatly under the category of a ‘very Japanese story’. That Japan is a ‘bad place for disabled people, rightly or wrongly, simply does not fit the image some of the western press has of Japan.

Trying to Write ‘Reasonably’ about Disability in Japan

I have been neglectful of my blog and writing in general. Some of this neglect is due to lack of a subject, I think it is well established that I have a penchant for writing about having a disability in general and the issue of  disability in Japan in particular. However, some of this neglect is due to the Japanese summer – 38.5C will make a writer…less than enthusiastic about writing.

On a serious note, I haven’t written on the issue of disability of late because there has been very little information upon which to base any article. I do look at Japanese news, searching for stories about disability in Japan, but if one does a Google search, one finds previous little recent topical links, and I can’t believe that is because there are no stories to tell.

I suppose I have to say that I have no pressing ‘disability  issue’ to talk you  about, except to remind you of  Philip Brasor’s comments in The Japan Times on The Law on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities, which came into effect on April 2016:

As the Yomiuri Shimbun explains, it “bans administrative bodies and private businesses from unduly discriminating against people with disabilities.” The idea is to make a society where those with disabilities can move and communicate with the same freedom a person without disabilities enjoys. But while the law mandates that private and public sectors alike must “make an effort” to remove all barriers that prevent people with disabilities from realizing the law’s aims, it qualifies the mandate with the phrase “reasonable accommodation.” In other words, there may be circumstances that make it difficult for a party to fully accommodate certain disabilities, but the law is too vague to specify those limitations. Facilities and practices should be made “barrier-free,” but if a business claims it can’t afford to make the appropriate changes, is that an “unreasonable” consideration?

I put my philosophers hat on as I leave you, and ask you this: What does ‘unreasonable’ mean?