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Decapitated Boy’s Head Placed at School Gate

by S.A. Ozbourne 9 months ago in guilty
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A shocking child murder committed by another child

Murdered boy Jun Hase (Source SCMP)

If you have any previous knowledge of big and nation-shocking crimes in Japan, then you have probably come across the story of the boy who killed, decapitated, and then hung the head of an elementary school boy outside his school. Beyond the killing though, the culprit placed a note in the dead boy’s mouth egging on the police to find him.

The crime that took place in Kobe Japan in 1997 claimed the lives of both Jun Hase, 11, who was decapitated, and Ayaka Yamashita, 10, who was also a victim to the 14-year old boy who called himself Sakakibara (an alias that in Japanese spells the Chinese characters alcohol, demon, and rose). Why did he kill Jun, a special needs student, in such a brutal way and why did he want so much attention from the police and media?

Murdered girl Ayaka Yamashita (Source:

First Kill

In February of 1997, there were three schoolgirls who were attacked but were lucky to escape death from a then 14-year old boy named Shinichiro Azuma who went by the alias Seito Sakakibara. However, in March, close by to Tainohata Elementary School, a 10-year old girl was not as lucky and was found bludgeoned to death with a steel pipe. Sakakibara recalled his first kill,

“I carried out sacred experiments today to confirm how fragile human beings are… I brought the hammer down when the girl turned to face me. I think I hit her a few times but I was too excited to remember.”

Originally known to kill and torture small animals, Sakakibara had worked his way up to killing children. However, it would be his next murder that would get worldwide attention and cause huge hysteria among Japanese people and the police.

His next murder would be only a few months later and even more gruesome.

Jun Hase Source Wikipedia

The killing of Jun Hase

Jun was an 11-year old student of Tainohata Elementary School and part of the special needs class which was made up of kids with mental or physical disabilities. Jun was an acquaintance of the 14-year old Sakakibara but why he chose Jun was never revealed.

However, the details of the murder and the steps Sakakibara took were vividly reported by Sakakibara himself in his book Zekka which is a recollection of his crimes and time in prison that he wrote as an adult.

Sakakibara claims to have strangled and eventually decapitated Jun Hase on the slopes of a nearby mountain with a hand saw. He then carried the boy’s body into the bathroom at his home, where he locked himself in and committed a deed “far more heinous than murder.” This deed most likely refers to committing sexual acts with Jun’s corpse as Sakakibara calls himself an “incorrigible sexual deviant.”

The school gate where Jun’s head was placed (Source Wikipedia)

Leaving Jun’s headless body under a house, he then took the head and placed it at the gates of the elementary school out in the open to be discovered by the neighborhood kids, parents, and school staff. The head had a note written in both Japanese and English shoved into its mouth.

It seems Azuma was a fan of serial killers and particularly the Zodiac killer as the note also had marks of those resembling the Zodiac killer of America and was signed with the strange alias Seito Sakakibara. The note read,

“This is the beginning of the game… You police guys stop me if you can… I desperately want to see people die, it is a thrill for me to commit murder. A bloody judgment is needed for my years of great bitterness.”

Letters written by Sakakibara

The janitor who found Jun’s head at the gate of the school also reported finding two mutilated cat remains with paws cut off and dead pigeons on the school grounds the previous week from where the head was found. It seems Sakakibara was a fan of serial killers and was hoping to make a name for himself amongst the other publicized murderers.

Seito Sakakibara (Source

The violent mind of Sakakibara

After the brutal decapitation of Jun, Sakakibara also warned of more murders to come stating, “From now on, if you misread my name or spoil my mood I will kill three vegetables a week…. If you think I can only kill children you are greatly mistaken.” The media had accidentally misread the pronunciation of the Chinese characters which angered Sakakibara.

His reference to vegetables was a poke at people who suffer from mental or physical disabilities. With Jun also being someone with a disability, was Sakakibara holding some sort of resentment towards these people? Did he target them because they were vulnerable and he could feel more powerful? Or is there some other deep-seated reason that made him target this group?

In a rambling letter that he sent to the media, he claimed responsibility for the murders and wanted more reactions from the police stating “I am putting my life at stake for the sake of this game. If I’m caught, I’ll probably be hanged … police should be angrier and more tenacious in pursuing me… It’s only when I kill that I am liberated from the constant hatred that I suffer and that I am able to attain peace. It is only when I give pain to people that I can ease my own pain.”

It seems Sakakibara wanted more recognition and attention towards him and his crimes. He might have wanted to be memorialized in a similar way as other serial killers were by media and society.

On June 28th, just a month after Jun’s head was found on the gates of the school, police arrested Seito Sakakibara whose actual name was Shinichiro Azuma. In Japan, minors’ names can’t be mentioned and Azuma was only referred to as Boy A in articles and news reports. However, despite attempts to keep his identity secret, one Japanese tabloid published both his picture and real name after he was released.

Sakakibara was sentenced to a youth reformatory for treatment as he was under the age of 16 so could not be tried as an adult. In 2003 he was judged to be “cured” of his sexual sadism and compulsion to kill and was released on parole in 2004. Originally, due to his unusual case, both the public and the victim’s families were notified of his release and whereabouts.

However, after 2004, he was no longer required to report his location and was able to drop out of sight from the public eye. Largely anonymous, it wasn’t until 2015 when he published the tell-all book that brought him back into the spotlight.

The families of the victims along with many advocates for the victims tried to keep the book from being published but ultimately it was released, was a success and profits went to Sakakibara which also caused a lot of outrage from the families of the victims.

Sakakibara’s Tendencies

Not much is known about Sakakibara’s childhood except that he enjoyed torturing and killing animals. He also enjoyed playing with dangerous objects as early as elementary school. He wrote, “I can ease my irritation when I’m holding a survival knife or spinning scissors like a pistol.”

Despite the social workers stating that Sakakibara was mentally unstable, his mother pressured him to pass the entrance exams needed to enter a good school. This pressure added with his aggression and violent tendencies caused friction both internally and with his interactions with the people around him.

He also admitted to mutilating a variety of animals and recalled stories in his childhood when he lined up a row of frogs in a street and rode over them with his bicycle as well as mutilating cats and decapitating pigeons.

Also during a search of his bedroom after he was arrested, police found thousands of comic books and pornographic videos which caused many politicians like Japanese politician Shizuka Kamei to blame the media and society, stating, “Movies lacking any literary or educational merit made for just showing cruel scenes… Adults should be blamed for this”.

Sakakibara’s tell-all book (Source Japan Times)

Where is he now

After his book, Azuma also set up a website with nude photos of a man he claimed was him. The bizarre incident caused a Japanese magazine called Shukan Post Magazine to also, along with his picture and name, publish the city where he now lives and his occupation.

Despite the ghastly murders he committed, his name being public and whereabouts being released, currently, in his late 30s, Azuma seems mostly out of the public eye and living a normal life.

Even though Azuma aka Sakakibara aka Boy A was one of the most renowned child criminals and was the main reason why in 2000, the Diet lowered the age for criminal responsibility from 16 to 14, Sakakibara finished his rehabilitation sentence in only six years and was released by age 21.

Whether justice was served and the murders of two children were vindicated, has been a matter of great debate. No matter what you think of the outcome or sentence, it can’t be denied that this crime committed by a minor was unprecedented and horrific.

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About the author

S.A. Ozbourne

A writer with no history or perspective is a paintbrush with no paint!

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