List of massacres in Japan

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The following is a list of massacres that have occurred in Japan and its predecessor entities ranging back to the Tokugawa shogunate (Some historical numbers may be approximate). The massacres are grouped into different time periods. Massacres have become a growing problem in contemporary Japan in recent years, with at least 110+ deaths during the 2010s.

Most notably, the 2019 Kyoto Animation arson attack claimed at least 36 lives and injured an additional 34. It is one of the deadliest massacres in Japan since the end of World War II and the deadliest building fire in Japan since the 2001 Myojo 56 building fire. It was considered "suicidal terrorism" by one criminology professor at Rissho University, as the attack was reportedly intended to be a suicide mission by the suspect.[1] In December 2021, another arson attack occurred, this time at a building in Osaka, specifically at a psychiatric clinic located on the fourth floor. It killed 25 and injured an additional 3. The suspect, who died in hospital two weeks later, is believed to have been inspired by the 2019 attack in Kyoto.[2]


Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868)[edit]

Date Name Location Perpetrator Deaths Notes
12–15 April 1638 Mass beheadings at the final days of the Shimabara revolt Inside and around Hara Castle, Minamishimabara Shogunate army 37,000 Rebels and sympathizers were beheaded by military forces. Afterwards, the Hara Castle was also burned to the ground.
December 1696 Yoshiwara spree killing Yoshiwara Sano Jirōzaemon ?

Empire of Japan (1868–1947)[edit]

Date Name Location Perpetrator Deaths Notes
1 March 1919 March 1st demonstrations Korea under Japanese rule Imperial Japanese Army 7,509 15,849 Koreans wounded[3]
October 1920 Gando massacre Jiandao Imperial Japanese Army 5,000+[4]
July 1922 Shinano River incident Shinano River Okura zaibatsu 100+ Documentation on death incomplete
September 1923 Kantō Massacre Kantō region Imperial Japanese Army, police and vigilantes 6,000+ Multiple incidents
May 1938 Tsuyama massacre Tsuyama Mutsuo Toi 30 3 injured
July 1945 Hanaoka incident Ōdate Imperial Japanese Army 418 113 prisoners of war executed; 307 also died

Occupied Japan (1947–1952)[edit]

Date Name Location Perpetrator Deaths Notes
26 January 1948 Teigin case Tokyo Sadamichi Hirasawa 12 False verdict suspected
15 July 1949 Mitaka incident Tokyo Keisuke Takeuchi 8 20 injured. False verdict suspected

State of Japan (1952–present)[edit]

Date Name Location Perpetrator Deaths Notes
30 August 1974 Mitsubishi bombing Tokyo East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front 8 376 injured
27–28 June 1994 Matsumoto incident Matsumoto Aum Shinrikyo 8 500+ injured[5]
20 March 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack Tokyo Aum Shinrikyo 13 6,252 injured
25 July 1998 Wakayama arsenic poison case Sonobe district of Wakayama, Wakayama Masumi Hayashi 4 64 injured[6]
29 September 1999 Shimonoseki Station massacre Shimonoseki Yasuaki Uwabe 5 10 injured
8 June 2001 Osaka school massacre Ikeda Mamoru Takuma 8 15 injured
1 September 2001 Myojo 56 building fire Shinjuku Unknown 44 Perpetrator never caught.
8 June 2008 Akihabara massacre Chiyoda Tomohiro Katō 7 10 injured
1 October 2008 Osaka movie theater fire[7][8] Osaka Kazuhiro Ogawa[9] 16
21–22 July 2013 Yamaguchi arson and murders Mitake Kosei Homi 5
26 July 2016 Sagamihara stabbings Sagamihara Satoshi Uematsu 19 26 injured
6 October 2017 Komatsu family murder Ibaraki Hirobumi Komatsu 6 Hirobumi Komatsu killed his wife and five children by stabbing, he then set the bodies on fire.[10]
28 May 2019 Kawasaki stabbings Tama ward of Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture Ryuichi Iwasaki 3 18 injured
18 July 2019 Kyoto Animation arson attack Kyoto Shinji Aoba 36 33 injured[11]
17 December 2021 Osaka building fire Osaka Morio Tanimoto (suspect) 25 3 injured, including suspect; arson suspected[12][13]


  1. ^ Yamaguchi, Mari (19 July 2019). "Kyoto Animation studio arson fire suspect reportedly had grudge". CTV News. CTV. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Osaka clinic fire suspect may have copied Kyoto Animation arson attack". The Japan Times. 21 December 2021. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  3. ^ Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, and Walthall, Anne (1947). East Asia : a cultural, social, and political history (Third ed.). Boston. ISBN 9781133606475. OCLC 811729581.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Eckhardt Fuchs, Tokushi Kasahara, Sven Saaler (4 December 2017). A New Modern History of East Asia. p. 196. ISBN 978-3737007085. Retrieved 2018-03-03. The Japanese forces then carried out the Gando Massacre, in which they indiscriminately attacked Koreans living in Eastern Manchuria and other regions, killing over 5,000 and burning down more than 3,500 homes.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Incident Summary for GTDID: 199406270007".
  6. ^ "Courts ignore reasonable doubt: lawyers". The Japan Times. 2006-11-16. Archived from the original on 2008-10-25. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
  7. ^ Factbox: Recent mass killings in Japan Reuters, July 18, 2019. Retrieved December 26, 2021
  8. ^ Fire at Japanese Adult Video Theater Kills 15 Fox News, January 13, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2021
  9. ^ Suicide was motive in Osaka arson Japan Times, October 5, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2021
  10. ^ "Ibaraki man gets death sentence over murders of wife, 5 children | the Asahi Shimbun: Breaking News, Japan News and Analysis".
  11. ^ "Death toll from arson attack on Kyoto Animation studio rises to 36". Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  12. ^ "24 confirmed dead in suspected case of arson in Osaka". The Japan Times. 17 December 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  13. ^ "Police: Osaka fire suspect may have copied Kyoto arsonist | the Asahi Shimbun: Breaking News, Japan News and Analysis".

External links[edit]