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Yasuaki UWABE





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Uwabe said he carried out the attack ''on God's orders'' and as ''revenge on humankind''
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: September 29, 1999
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1964
Victims profile: Men and women
Method of murder: Running with a car - Slashing with a knife
Location: Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan
Status: Sentenced to death on September 20, 2002. Executed by hanging on March 29, 2012

The Shimonoseki Station massacre took place on September 29, 1999 when Yasuaki Uwabe, then aged 35, drove a car into the station. Exiting the car, he proceeded to stab passers-by at random until apprehended at the scene. As a result of his actions, five people were killed and 10 others were injured; Uwabe was arrested at the scene.


On September 29, 1999 at around 4:25 pm, Uwabe, who was still working in the transportation industry, drove a rented car into the east entrance of Shimonoseki Station. Driving through the first platform floor, Uwabe hit at least seven people, two of whom died at the scene. As the car got stuck, Uwabe got out of the car and progressed up to the second platform on the second floor, brandishing a knife. After using the knife to stab a further seven people, Uwabe was overpowered by local police and arrested at the scene.


Yasuaki Uwabe (Japanese: 上部康明) was born in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi. After graduating from Kyushu University in 1989, Uwabe left one job in 1991 and another, at an architectural firm, due to his social phobias.

Uwabe married in 1993 and opened his own architectural firm, but quit in 1997 due to his phobias. As he ran out of money, he received a loan to buy a truck and began work in the delivery service industry. At the same time he began to isolate himself. He got a divorce in June 1999.

On September 24 the same year, his truck was lost in a flood due to a typhoon, and his loan was recalled. He asked his parents to pay for the loan but they refused. Looking back on his early life, Uwabe described how, after graduating as a first class architect from a national university of Japan he found it hard to open his own design office and began to blame his parents and society for his frustration. He says he was also motivated by another crime three weeks earlier when a 23-year-old man stabbed eight people (and killing two) in Ikebukuro.


After his arrest, Uwabe said that "No matter what [he] did, it never turned out well, which made [him] bitter toward society". He also stated that he decided to use a car in order to "kill more people". He was judged by the Yamaguchi District Court and was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death. He was executed by hanging on March 29, 2012.


Japan executes three multiple murderers

March 20, 2012

Japan yesterday resumed its use of capital punishment after a 20-month break, with an unapologetic government minister signing death warrants for three multiple murderers.

The convicts went to the gallows on the orders of Japanese Minister of Justice Toshio Ogawa, who said he was performing his job and acting in line with public opinion, which overwhelmingly supports the death penalty.

“Today, three executions were carried out,” Ogawa said of the hangings, the first in Japan since July 2010. “I have carried out my duty as a justice minister as stipulated by law.”

Apart from the US, Japan is the only major industrialized democracy to carry out capital punishment, a practice that has led to repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.

Amnesty International condemned the executions and said it would write to Ogawa and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to protest.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also protested, reiterating its calls for the abolition of the death penalty, saying it goes against global trends.

Japan did not execute anybody last year, the first year in nearly two decades the country did not carry out a single death sentence amid a muted debate on the rights and wrongs of the policy.

International advocacy groups have denounced the Japanese system, under which death row inmates can wait for their executions for many years in solitary confinement and are only told of their impending death a few hours ahead of time.

The wait can become decades, because the wheels of Japanese justice turn notoriously slowly.

Ogawa was unrepentant for his order, citing the legal requirement for execution and demand from the public, who in polls have shown 85 percent support for capital punishment.

“Punishments for crimes are decided by the public,” he said, referring to Japan’s long-standing policy of using capital punishment.

The three inmates put to death yesterday were all multiple murderers, whose violence in low-crime Japan shocked the public.

Yasuaki Uwabe, 48, drove a car into a train station in Kyushu in a planned random killing, hitting several people before running onto the platform with an 18cm knife. He killed five people and injured 10.

Tomoyuki Furusawa, 46, whose wife was hiding at her parents’ home in Yokohama to escape his abuse as she filed for divorce, killed her elderly parents and her 12-year-old son in 2002 before abducting and assaulting her.

Yasutoshi Matsuda, 44, killed two women in southern Miyazaki Prefecture in 2001.

The most recent executions in Japan before yesterday were in July 2010, when then-minister of justice Keiko Chiba approved the hanging of two inmates, despite her long-standing opposition to the death penalty.

In an unusual move, Chiba attended the executions and later allowed the media to visit the execution chamber at the Tokyo Detention House in a move designed to increase public debate over the death penalty.

Under Chiba, the Japanese Ministry of Justice began looking into whether capital punishment should continue. However, the review ended inconclusively this year under Ogawa.

Ogawa said that following the executions, 132 people remained on death row.


Top court upholds death for man convicted of killing 5 in train station rampage

Friday 11th July, 2008

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death penalty given to a man who was convicted of killing five people and injuring 10 others in a 1999 rampage at JR Shimonoseki Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan. The top court’s second petty bench turned down an appeal filed by the defendant Yasuaki Uwabe, 44.

In Friday’s decision, Justice Isao Imai rejected the defense counsel’s argument that the defendant was insane at the time of the rampage. ‘‘The defendant, under thorough preparations and a firm will to kill, staged an indiscriminate attack on innocent people at the station that is extremely atrocious,” the judge said. Uwabe took 120 sleeping pills and drove a rental car into the railway station on Sept 29, 1999, running over seven people. He then attacked eight other people there with an 18-centimeter kitchen knife. Five of the 15 died.


Killer of 5 gets death penalty, insanity plea rejected

Japan Weekly Monitor

September 20, 2002

A district court sentenced a man to death on Friday for murdering five people and injuring 10 others in a 1999 rampage at JR Shimonoseki Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, dismissing an insanity plea by the defense.

Yasuaki Uwabe, 38, was found guilty of murder by the Shimonoseki Branch of the Yamaguchi District Court, which dismissed his defense team's contention that he was not criminally liable as he was not mentally competent at the time of the crime on Sept. 29, 1999.

During the trial, two psychiatric reports on whether Uwabe was criminally responsible for his actions were submitted. Uwabe had said he carried out the attack ''on God's orders'' and as ''revenge on humankind.''

The first psychiatric report, supported by the defense, said he was in a state of diminished responsibility.

The court adopted the second report, which said that although he suffers from a personality disorder, he was criminally responsible.

The prosecutors had demanded the death penalty, saying Uwabe was responsible for his actions.

Presiding Judge Masao Namiki said, ''The act was intentional and was one of the most savage crimes in criminal history. There are no extenuating circumstances.''

According to the ruling, Uwabe crashed a rented car into JR Shimonoseki Station building at around 4:25 p.m. on Sept. 29, 1999 after taking 120 sleeping pills.

He hit seven people on the road outside with the car and then ran into the station and attacked eight people with a kitchen knife.

Three people died immediately and two others afterward.

Of the two, the defense argued the cause of death of a 45-year-old woman who died in November 1999 was a chronic illness she had. The defense claimed the charge should be attempted murder but the court also dismissed this claim.


Yasuaki Uwabe



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