As a country with a low crime rate, Japan still has its share of gruesome and bizarre crimes.
This appears to be true, even though generally it’s way below than what is typically recorded in the United States. Perhaps as a byproduct of repression or social status, serial murder crimes in Japan may actually be some of the most startling, that investigators all over the world have faced.
As such, we’d like to share a quick list on some killers that made waves in the country’s crime scene. Do take note that this list is far from complete – it is also in the hopes that by knowing the motive or method behind the madness of these individuals, that true crime aficionados will get a good grasp on how Japanese killers think.
Sometimes, the biggest crimes begin in the most unassuming people. Such was the case with Akira Nishiguchi, who, drawn into the life of petty crimes such as theft, found himself in. A serial conman, it can be assumed that Nishiguchi ‘bit off more than what he could chew on’, when he hitched a ride sometime in 1963. Robbing the two men who offered him a ride for a mere $750, Nishiguchi then led the men to a secluded place and proceeded to kill them.
With the taste of blood introducing some paranoia into his system (and with the police naming him as a prime suspect), Nishiguchi went on the run. The conman then found himself in a hotel in a seedy area of Hamamatsu, where he spent scheming in an estimated five-day period. Driven by the blood on his hands, Nishiguchi, unfortunately, killed both the hotel manager and her manager as well.
The bodies of the two women were discovered by local authorities on November 18, 1963. A few weeks later, on December 29, an elderly lawyer was found dead in Tokyo. The latest death, (the fifth in just a matter of a few months), caused much alarm amongst Japanese citizens that time.
And going with the unassuming phrase, it was also an unassuming person which led to the arrest of the killer. All it took was an 11-year old girl to report to the authorities of seeing a man whose face she saw in a wanted poster. Just that – with the trail cold and dead, a young girl’s astute memory, was what it took to bring Nishiguchi to jail (and execution, in 1970).
If there was a good thing that came out of these deaths, then it would probably be the change in the way the Japanese police now deal with serial killers. Given the wayward ordeal the public had to endure due to criminals such as Nishiguchi, the Japanese police had to revamp its system to counter such threats or cases. Hence, the “Metropolitan Designated Case” was designed to combat individuals with a tendency to commit these gruesome crimes.
All it took were 41 days for Kiyoshi Okubo to commit heinous acts that rocked Japan. Raping and murdering eight women from March 31 to May 10, 1971, (and harassing approximately 150 women as well), Okubo’s pent-up rage showed a disturbing take on how a killer can victimize those who he sees as prey.
This aggression may have stemmed from Okubo’s rocky childhood years. Never disciplined as a child, and a constant target among bullies in school, caused young Okubo to live life as an outcast. Unnerved, Okubo’s hidden desire to just lash out reared its ugly head just before the teenage years. At 11-years-old, Okubo was caught molesting his neighbor, a 7-year-old girl. Instead of being disciplined, Okubo’s guardians simply shrugged the incident off.
The repression and lack of confidence further brewed something terrible in the killer’s mind. Acting on impulse, Okubo decided to give in to his whims and rape a woman on December 26, 1955. The failed attempt to rape the woman led to Okubo’s arrest.
Four year later, December, 1959, Okubo was granted parole. On April, 1960, however, Okubo attempted (unsuccessfully, again) to rape another woman. However, the victim didn’t pursue any charges against Okubo.
The next year strangely enough, Okubo decided to settle down and marry and resulted in him having two children (a son and daughter).
And yet, that gnawing beast within him would then show up later again in his life. On December 23, 1966, and approximately five years into his marriage, Okubo raped a young girl. With him able to manage the feat, Okubo decided to repeat the act. Two months after Christmas, Okubo raped a woman – four months after the crime, he was arrested.
His release from prison on 1971 made him want to unleash the beast inside him. This time, though, sexual assault wasn’t enough. Blaming police brutality as the cause of his urges, he lashed out on women during the mentioned 41-day murder/rape spree. When he was finally arrested (mainly due to negligence on his part), Okubo eventually confessed to his crimes.
Okubo was sentenced to death on February 22, 1973.
A certain thrill seems to be what drove Tsutomu Miyazaki to commit the bizarre and terrible acts he committed during the late ‘80s. Born deformed (his hands fused to his wrists), Miyazaki lived a life of escapism. With a distinct love for manga (Japanese comics), Miyazaki eventually grew up to live his life as a recluse in his parents’ own house.
But, why? Some may point out that his deformity pushed aside opportunities for him to socialize with peers. Additionally, it had been noted by investigators that Miyazaki developed an inferiority complex as well. Aside from his antisocial behavior, Miyazaki was ashamed of the size of his penis. As well as the expectations his family had for him, (his father was an influential person in his town), Miyazaki continued a downward spiral into the depths of despair and imagination, to escape whatever perils reality had in store for him.
Bizarre may just be what Miyazaki was. When his grandfather died (probably the only person Miyazaki considered to be a friend), Miyazaki admitted that he ate some of the deceased relative’s ashes as a way to have some part of that person within him. Since that incident, Miyazaki moved out of his parents’ home to live in his own apartment. He had also started hoarding pornographic material. Authorities who handled the case claim that Miyazaki had a total of 5,763 videotapes collected, made of various themes such as anime (Japanese cartoons), child porn, and torture and snuff films.
Which is why, when Miyazaki was captured, the media dubbed him as “The Otaku Murderer” (otaku roughly means a person obsessed with anime or video games – and a person who has poor social skills as well). Along with fantastical obsession Miyazaki had, it comes as no surprise on how strange his crimes were too. From August 1988 to June 1989, Saitama prefecture citizens (which had little to no crimes against children), were in shock – four children (all female, with ages ranging from four to seven years old) were killed during the time span.
Miyazaki committed these violent acts:
- Pedophilia – all victims were young girls, unfortunately, were all devastatingly violated by Miyazaki.
- Murder – all victims were killed in a gruesome manner.
- Necrophilia – Miyazaki sexually violated the young girls’ corpses.
- Cannibalism – there were instances that Miyazaki cannibalized a victim’s body part.
Part and parcel on some of Miyazaki’s crimes are how he would taunt victims’ families – either by sending a postcard with a cryptic message, or by making silent phone calls.
Miyazaki was caught red-handed on July 1989, when the father of an abducted girl saw the killer taking pictures of his daughter’s private parts in a car. The killer tried to flee the scene naked – Miyazaki was caught by the authorities when he returned to get his car. Showing no remorse during his decades-long trial (nonsensical, as well, blaming his actions on a “Rat Man” – a being that promised him to bring his grandfather back to life if he killed the children).
Miyazaki was hung on June 17, 2008.
Japan – the land of the rising sun, as wondrous and innovative the culture it may be, also has its fair share of skeletons in the closet too!
Read Serial Killers that Terrified Japan Part 2 to learn about more twisted murderers.