As somewhat a universal approach, parents across the globe teach their children never to talk to strangers. In the increasingly unsafe world we live in, how certain are you that the countless strangers you cross paths with are not capable of inflicting danger on your life?
In the city of Kawaguchi, Japan, a group of four juvenile boys shattered the peace and tranquility among its citizens. After they were released, they stayed on a path of crime…
A Brutal Attack
On the afternoon of August 19, a Japanese man named Shinji savagely beat a 32-year-old male company employee in the right shoulder with a metal baton on a road in Kawaguchi City. After the vicious beating, Shinji also slashed the victim’s throat with a knife.
One of Many Attacks
At the time of the arrest, the news outlets provided little information about him, merely saying that Shinji is unemployed. Providing minimal information to the public on alleged criminals is common practice in Japan. However, with a quick criminal background investigation, this was not a random act of violence from an unemployed man, but one of many in a string of brutal assaults.
Lucky to Be Alive
Little to his knowing, Shinji’s victim had actually been lucky on that particular day. Unlike Shinji’s other victim, he had made it out alive. A few decades earlier, when Shinji was 17 years old, he and three accomplices were not your average high school boys. Their minds were not focused on school and sports like their peers. Instead, sick and sadistic thoughts of torment and murder ran through their blood.
A Strange Obsession
In November of 1988, Shinji and his friend Hiroshi, 17, became strangely obsessed with a 17-year-old girl named Junko. With a bright smile that lit up any room she entered, Junko was full of life, ambition, and was dedicated to her studies and family. Not only was Junko a brilliant and loved student, she also worked a part time job to help alleviate her family’s financial burdens. But, sadly, unaware to Junko, her life would soon be cut short.
A Serene Night
It had been a beautiful, crisp fall night when Junko had left her part-time job. The light breeze from the trees and serene vibe of the night was a far cry from the ugliness and chaos that was to come. Shinji and Hiroshi followed Junko after she left work. It had been a long day and Junko was eager to get home to have dinner with her family. But, sadly, completely unbeknownst to Junko, she would never see her family again.
Shinji and Hiroshi waited for the perfect moment. The deranged men knew in order for their plan to succeed, it was critical for it to be completely dark to avoid any detection from bystanders. And when Junko finally noticed the men following her, it was too late.
Shinji and Hiroshi Miyano abducted Junko and took her to a residence in the Ayase area of the Adachi Ward. The duo had already enlisted two of their friends, Jo Ogura and Yasushi Watanabe, also juveniles, to meet them at the location where Junko was being held. Junko repeatedly begged the devious boys to let her go. However, Shinji and his accomplices knew exactly what they were going to do with Junko, and the last thing on their minds was letting her go.
The Heinous Attack
In the following days, Junko would endure an inexplicable suffering. The young girl was repeatedly raped, sodomized and tortured by her perpetrators. The torment she braved did not occur once, not twice, but 44 times.
On the night of her disappearance, Junko’s family knew immediately that something was wrong. After all, Junko was not the type to come home late, yet alone spend the entire night out. Her parents contacted the police immediately, but to no avail. It seemed like Little Junko had simply disappeared into thin air.
Parent’s Worst Nightmare
Junko’s parents spent endless days searching for their daughter. They no longer experienced a good night’s sleep or any sort of normalcy. Their lives had been destroyed and the feelings of uncertainty and lack of answers had driven them to shear desperation. After missing for 44 days, Junko’s family finally found an answer to her disappearance. But, it was not the answer they were looking for. Instead, it was a parent’s worst nightmare.
A Piece of Garbage
On the day of January 4, 1989, Junko’s battered body could no longer bear anymore misery. The monsters had overindulged in their twisted fantasies by raping and beating Junko repeatedly. So, just like a piece of garbage, the boys felt they didn’t have use for her anymore.
The Plan to Kill
The wicked boys, without any hesitation or guilt, determined to kill Junko. They wanted her dead not only because they no longer had no use for her, but also to avoid being caught by the police. As Junko lay there lifeless, the boys drenched her body with gasoline and lit it on fire.
Junko was burnt alive. She died a horrible, slow death as she felt every inch of her body scorched in the flames. The boys then wrapped her body in blankets and packed it in an oil drum along with concrete. The drum was then dumped at what is today, Wakase Park.
Another Rape Victim
Sadly, Junko was not Shinji and Jo Ogura’s only sexual assault victim. The deranged boys also raped another young girl in the following months. But, luckily this time, Shinji and Jo Ogura were arrested for their alleged crime. The police investigation into this rape case allowed them to uncover their involvement in the disappearance of Junko Furuta. During questioning, shockingly, Shinji confessed to the rape and murder of Junko and told police where to find her body.
The Public Outcry
This sort of brutal and savage behavior was unforeseen in most parts of Japan. The entire country demanded justice for the the murder of the young school girl. The citizens of Japan called on the higher courts to deliver the harshest punishments against the perpetrators, regardless of their age. But, in a jaw dropping conclusion, justice for Junko would not prevail.
Slap on The Wrist
The criminal proceedings were conducted with Shinji and his accomplices considered as juveniles. The judge delivered lenient sentences – what most people considered a mere slap on the wrist. For the gruesome rape of Junko for 44 days and finally being burnt alive, the boys received up to 10 years in jail; only one received up to 20 years. The light punishment for their despicable acts was seen almost as free reign for the boys to do whatever they pleased. And, years later, that’s exactly what happened.
Arrested For Another Attack
Five years after he was released from prison in 1999, one of the perpetrators, Jo Ogura, was arrested for assaulting and confining the manager of a “snack” hostess club. He was sentenced to a 4-year term, which he completed in 2009. After Hiroshi Miyano was released from prison in 2009, he changed his name to Yokoyama to avoid any connection to prior crimes. Four years later, he was arrested on suspicion of fraud.
Living The High Life
Hiroshi had been living the high life, but how he acquired his money is being investigated. “He’s always with members of his posse, taking them to barbecue parties and hostess clubs,” said a source. “He speeds around in a BMW and sports high-end clothing. He’s open about his ties to organized crime and multi-level marketing schemes that make him money.”
A Violent Attack
Regarding Shinji Minato, Saitama, police accused him of attempted murder. “I certainly stabbed and beat him, but I did not intend to kill him,” the suspect was quoted in partially denying the allegations upon his arrest. Based on the investigation, police believe that the incident took place after the suspect and victim, who were not acquainted, got into a vehicle-related dispute, police said. Minato also told police that he keeps the knife and baton inside his vehicle “for self-protection.”
Where Are They Now?
In Japanese society, the cultural norm to minimize the actions of alleged criminals has been a recurring theme. The media’s refusal to address the abuses against vulnerable victims, while downplaying the roles of the aggressors may have permitted these despicable cowards to get away with the rape and murder of Junko and to continue partaking in illegal activity and assaulting more victims. Although, three out of the four have gotten in trouble with the law again, it is undetermined at this point if any of them will spend more than a few days behind bars.