Man Behind Attack That Sickened Japan Gets Death

Satoshi Uematsu murdered 19 people in a 2016 stabbing attack outside of Tokyo
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2020 7:21 AM CDT
Man Who Wanted to 'Obliterate' the Disabled Gets Death
The Yokohama District Court sentenced Satoshi Uematsu, 30, to death Monday, March 16, 2020, for killing 19 disabled people and injuring 24 others four years ago in the deadliest mass attack in postwar Japan.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

It was an attack that left Japan stunned and sickened in 2016, and the man behind it on Monday was sentenced to death by hanging. In what was at the time the country's biggest mass killing since World War II, then 26-year-old Satoshi Uematsu murdered 19 people at a center for the disabled just outside Tokyo. Uematsu was a former administrator at the Tsukui Yamayuri-En facility in Sagamihara, and had reportedly threatened to "obliterate 470 disabled people" during a night shift at the facility months prior. "I want Japan to be a country where the disabled can be euthanized," he wrote in a letter directed at Japan's parliament. The AP reports that attitude didn't change during the investigation and trial, with Uematsu reiterating that he had no qualms about his actions and was trying to improve the world by ridding it of people he considered burdens.

The BBC reports that his lawyers had tried to make the argument that Uematsu was mentally ill and had been abusing marijuana. The drug was found in his system after the stabbing attack, which prosecutors say involved Uematsu breaking in through a window and stabbing residents as they slept. Those killed ranged in age from 19 to 70; another 26 people were wounded. But Chief Judge Kiyoshi Aonuma found that "the attacks were premeditated, and the defendant was acting consistently to achieve his goal." The AP notes executions are a secretive business in Japan, with those condemned to die only being informed of their date of death the morning of. (The Guardian reports that 36 people died in a larger mass killing last July: an arson attack on an anime studio in Kyoto.)

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