Tokyo Mass Murderer Blames Online Harassment, Mother

The Akihabara mass murder defendant testified that his killing rampage was caused by the harassment he had suffered on an online bulletin board. Tomohiro Kato’s 2008 spree left seven dead and 10 injured.

“I did it as means to urge those who harassed me on an Internet bulletin board to stop it,” said the 27-year-old Kato while testifying at the Tokyo District Court on July 27 in response to questioning by his defense lawyer. “I shouldn’t have committed the crime and I regret what I did.”

In Kato’s first statements in open court since his first hearing on Jan. 28, he testified that anonymous persons had harassed him or posted messages under his name on an online bulletin board.

“I had repeatedly threatened to launch an attack unless they stopped harassing me, but they wouldn’t stop,” Kato stated. “By launching the attack and having it reported by the media, I wanted them to know I really wanted them to stop their harassment,” he said.

Asked if he considered not using the bulletin board, Kato said he could not.

“The real world is a society in which people must show their official stances but the Internet is a society where people can freely express their real intentions. The Internet was very important for me because I could frankly say what I really thought about,” he said. “I had nothing else that could replace the Internet. It was my relations with others on the Internet that I really valued.”

Kato pointed out that there are three factors that caused him to launch the deadly attack — online harassment, his intention to express his ideas through his actions rather than words, and his excessive reliance on the online bulletin board. He also attributed these factors to the way his mother educated him as a boy.

“I have no intention of placing the blame on her, but my conclusion is the result of objective analysis of my own mentality without being emotional,” he said.

“If I couldn’t recite my multiplication tables my mother dunked me in the bathtub, and when I was slow to eat, she scattered rice on a leaflet and force me to eat it,” he recalled. “Even if my younger brother had the same problems, he wouldn’t be scolded. I felt I was being treated like an enemy.”

He also said that his mother had taken away his freedom. “The paintings and essays I submitted to school were always corrected by my mother and weren’t my own works. When I was in early elementary school, my mother had already decided that I should go to Hokkaido University’s School of Engineering.”

Kato apologized to the survivors and the bereaved families of the deceased victims at the beginning of the hearing on July 27.

“I’m sorry to the survivors and the bereaved families,” he said. “I will talk about anything if it can help prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.”

Kato went on his killing spree in Tokyo’s Akihabara district on June 8, 2008. He first plowed a rented truck into pedestrians crossing a street, hitting five of them. He then got out and began stabbing others with a knife. Seven were killed and 10 were injured in the incident.