Murder of Junko Furuta
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|Born||18 January 1971
Misato, Saitama, Japan
|Died||4 January 1989 (aged 17)
Adachi, Tokyo, Japan
|Cause of death||Severe bodily injuries.|
|Occupation||High school student.
|Known for||Murder victim|
Junko Furuta (古田 順子 Furuta Junko, 22 November 1971 – 4 January 1989) was a 17-year-old Japanese high school student who was abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered in the late 1980s. Her murder case was named concrete-encased high school girl murder case (女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人事件 Joshikōsei konkurīto-zume satsujin-jiken), due to her body being discovered in a concrete drum. The murder was mainly perpetrated by four teenage boys, Hiroshi Miyano, Jō Ogura, Shinji Minato, Yasushi Watanabe.
Approximately 100 people knew about Junko Furuta’s captivity, but either did nothing about it or themselves participated in the torture and murder. Most of the participants were friends of the teenage boys, who were low-ranking members of the Yakuza.
Junko Furuta was born on 18 January 1971 in Misato, Saitama Prefecture. As a teenager, she attended Yashio-Minami High School and worked as a part-time employee during after school hours. She was known to be popular and good looking, which made some of her classmates jealous. However, she was looked down upon by the "gangster-like" teenagers since she refrained from smoking, drinking alcohol and drug usage. Hiroshi Miyano (now Hiroshi Yokoyama), a known school bully with connections to Yakuza, had a crush on Furuta but Furuta turned him down, since she was not looking for a relationship. With the exception of Furuta, nobody dared to oppose Miyano due to his Yakuza connections.
On 25 November 1988, Miyano and his friend Nobuharu Minato (now Shinji Minato) wandered around Misato, with the intention of robbing and raping local women. At 8:30 pm, they spotted Furuta cycling home after she finished her part-time job. Under Miyano's orders, Minato kicked Furuta off her bicycle and immediately fled the scene. Miyano, pretending to be an innocent bystander, approached Furuta and offered to walk her home safely. Gaining her trust, Furuta was unaware that Miyano was leading her to a nearby warehouse, where he revealed his Yakuza connections. Miyano threatened to kill her as he raped her in the warehouse and once again in a nearby hotel. From the hotel, Miyano called Minato and his other friends, Jō Ogura (now Jō Kamisaku), and Yasushi Watanabe and bragged to them about the rape. Ogura reportedly asked Miyano to keep her, so that they could all have a turn. The group had a history of gang rape, and had recently kidnapped and raped another girl, although she was released afterwards.
Around 3:00 am, Miyano took Furuta to a nearby park, where Minato, Ogura and Watanabe were waiting. They told her that they knew where she lived (from a notebook in her backpack), and that the Yakuza would kill her family if she attempted to escape. She was easily overpowered by the four boys, and taken to a house in the Ayase district of Adachi, where she was gang raped. The house was owned by Minato's parents, which soon became their regular gang hangout.
On 27 November, Furuta's parents contacted the police about their daughter's disappearance. In order to forestall the manhunt, the kidnappers coerced her into calling her mother. She was forced to say that she had run away, but was safe and staying with a friend. She was also forced to ask her mother to stop the police investigation into her disappearance. When Minato's parents were around, Furuta was forced to pose as the girlfriend of one of the kidnappers. They later dropped this pretext when it became clear that the Minatos would not report them to the police. The Minatos stated that they did not intervene because they were aware of Miyano's Yakuza connections and feared retaliation from him, and because their own son was increasingly violent towards them. Minato's brother was also aware of the situation, but also did nothing to prevent it.
Furuta was held captive in the Minato residence for forty days, where she was abused, raped and tortured. They also invited and encouraged their other friends from Yakuza, to torment Furuta. According to their trial statements, the four of them:
- Raped her over 400 times.
- Beat her several times.
- Starved her.
- Hanged her body from the ceiling and used her as a "punching bag"
- Dropped barbells onto her stomach several times.
- Forced her to eat live cockroaches and drink her own urine.
- Forced her to masturbate in front of them.
- Inserted foreign objects into her vagina and anus.
- Shoved a still-lit light bulb into her vagina.
- Set fireworks into her anus, vagina, mouth and ears.
- Burnt her vagina and clitoris with cigarettes and lighters.
- Burnt her eyelids with hot wax and lighters
- Tore off her left nipple with pliers.
- Pierced her breasts with sewing needles.
Some of the torturers' friends have been officially identified, including Tetsuo Nakamura (now Tetsuo Yamada) and Koichi Ihara, who were charged with rape, after their DNA was found on and in the victim's body. Koichi Ihara was allegedly bullied into raping Furuta. After he left the Minato household, he told his brother about the incident. His brother subsequently told their parents, who contacted police. Two police officers were dispatched to the Minato house, however they were informed that there was no girl inside. The police officers declined an invitation to look around the house, believing the invitation was sufficient proof that there was no girl in the Minato house. Both officers faced considerable backlash from the community. Had they done their due diligence, Furuta's ordeal would have only lasted sixteen days and she may well have recovered from her injuries. The two officers were fired for failing to follow procedure.
At the beginning of December, Furuta attempted to call the police. However, she was discovered by Hiroshi before she could say anything. When the police phoned back, Miyano informed them that it was a mistake. As punishment, they doused her legs and feet in lighter fluid and set it on fire. They also shoved a large bottle into her anus, causing severe bleeding. She reportedly went into convulsions. During their trial, they stated that they thought she was faking a seizure, so they set her on fire again. She survived these injuries, and continued to be raped and tortured. Furuta is reported to have asked her captors on multiple occasions to "kill her and get it over with", but they refused. Instead, they forced her to sleep outside on the balcony (it was winter at that time) and locked her in a freezer. One of the kidnappers told the court that her hands and legs were so badly damaged that it took her over an hour to drag herself downstairs to use the washroom. Due to the severity of the torture, she eventually lost bladder and bowel control and was beaten for soiling the carpets. She was also unable to drink water or consume food and would vomit after each attempt. She was also severely beaten for this.
The brutality of the attacks drastically altered Furuta's appearance. Her face was so swollen that it was difficult to make out her features. Her body was also severely crippled, giving off a rotting smell that caused the four boys to lose sexual interest in her. As a result, the boys kidnapped and gang-raped a 19-year-old woman who, like Furuta, was on her way home from work.
On 4 January 1989, the four boys challenged Furuta to a game of Mahjong, which she is said to have won. Out of frustration, the boys beat her with an iron barbell, kicked and punched her, and placed two short candles on her eyelids, burning them with the hot wax. They made her stand, and struck her feet with swinging stick. At this point, she fell onto a stereo and collapsed into a fit of convulsions. Since she was bleeding profusely, and pus was emerging from her infected burns, the four boys covered their hands in plastic bags taped at the wrists. They continued to beat her, and dropped an iron exercise ball onto her stomach several times. They poured lighter fluid onto her thighs, arms, face and stomach and once again set her on fire. Furuta allegedly made attempts to put out the fire, but gradually became unresponsive. The attack reportedly lasted two hours. Furuta eventually succumbed to her wounds and died that day.
Less than twenty-four hours after her death, Nobuharu Minato's brother called to tell him that Furuta appeared to be dead. Afraid of being caught for murder, they wrapped her body in blankets and shoved it into a travel bag. They then put her body in a 55-gallon (208 litres) drum and filled it with wet concrete. Around 8:00 pm, they loaded and eventually disposed the drum into a cement truck in Kōtō, Tokyo.
On 23 January 1989, Hiroshi Miyano and Jō Ogura were arrested for the gang-rape of the 19-year-old woman they had kidnapped in December. On 29 March, two police officers came to interrogate them, as women's underwear had been found at their addresses. During the interrogation, one of the officers led Miyano into thinking he knew of Furuta's murder. Thinking that Jō Ogura had confessed to the crime, Miyano told the police where to find Furuta’s body. The police were initially puzzled by the confession, as they had been talking about the murder of another woman and her seven-year-old son that had occurred nine days prior to Furuta’s abduction. That case remains unsolved to this day.
The police found the drum containing Furuta's body the following day. She was identified via fingerprints. On 1 April 1989 Jō Ogura was arrested for another sexual assault, and subsequently re-arrested for murder. The arrest of Yasushi Watanabe, Nobuharu Minato and Minato's brother followed.
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Despite the shocking brutality of their crime, the identities of the boys were sealed by the court since they were all considered to be juveniles at the time of the crime. Journalists from the Shūkan Bunshun magazine discovered their identities however, and published them. They stated that, given the severity of the crime, the accused did not deserve to have their right to anonymity upheld. All four boys pled guilty to "committing bodily injury that resulted in death", rather than murder.
In July 1990, a lower court sentenced Hiroshi Miyano, the alleged leader of the crime, to 17 years in prison. He appealed his sentence, but Tokyo High Court judge Ryūji Yanase sentenced him to an additional three years in prison. The 20-year sentence he received is the second highest possible sentence after life imprisonment. He was 18 at the time of the murder. Miyano's mother reportedly sent Furuta's parents 50 million yen (USD 425,000), after selling their family home. In January 2013, Miyano was re-arrested for fraud. Due to insufficient evidence, he was released without charge.
Nobuharu Minato, who originally received a four-to-six year sentence, was re-sentenced to five-to-nine years by judge Ryūji Yanase upon appeal. He was 16 at the time of the murder. Nobuharu's parents and brother were not charged. Furuta's parents were dismayed by the sentences received by their daughter's killers, and won a civil suit against the parents of Nobuharu Minato, in whose home the crimes were committed. After his release, Minato moved in with his mother. He has not worked since.
Yasushi Watanabe, who was originally sentenced to three-to-four years in prison, received an upgraded sentence of five-to-seven years. He was 17 at the time of the murder. After his release, he married a Romanian woman.
For his participation in the crime, Jō Ogura served eight years in a juvenile prison before he was released in August 1999. He was 17 at the time of the murder. After his release, he is said to have boasted about his role in the kidnapping, rape and torture of Furuta. In July 2004, he was arrested for assaulting Takatoshi Isono, an acquaintance he thought his girlfriend may have been involved with. Jō tracked Isono down, beat him and shoved him into his trunk. He drove him from Adachi to his mother's bar in Misato, where he allegedly beat Isono for four hours. During that time, Ogura repeatedly threatened to kill the man, telling him that he'd killed before and knew how to get away with it. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for the assault, and has since been released. Ogura's mother allegedly vandalized Furuta's grave, stating that she had ruined her son's life. It has also been reported that Ogura has run through his father's savings (money which was originally meant for Furuta’s family), buying and consuming a number of luxury goods.
The sentences were largely regarded as being far too light for the crimes committed, however all four individuals were protected by special provisions applied to individuals 18 years old and younger. Had they been a couple of years older, Hiroshi Miyano would have undoubtedly received capital punishment, while the other three are likely to have received life imprisonment.
During sentencing, the judge commented that "exceptionally grave and atrocious violence" had been afflicted upon the victim, and that Junko Furuta had been "murdered so brutally at the young age of 17, [that her] soul must be wandering in torment". Hearing the details of the brutal rape and torture, a spectator in the gallery fainted. Furuta's mother also reportedly had a mental breakdown, which required psychiatric treatment.
Junko Furuta's funeral was held on 2 April 1989. One of her friends' memorial address stated:
Jun-chan, welcome back. I have never dreamed that we would see you again in this way. You must have been in so much pain ... so much suffering ... The happi we all made for the school festival looked really good on you. We will never forget you. I have heard that the headmaster has presented you with a graduation certificate. So we graduated together – all of us. Jun-chan, there is no more pain, no more suffering. Please rest in peace...
Furuta's part-time employer, whom she worked for prior to her kidnapping and murder, presented her parents the uniform she would need to wear as a full-time employee. The uniform was placed in her coffin. The location where Furuta's body was discovered has been developed since and is now a park.
In popular culture
At least three Japanese-language books have been written about the incident.
An exploitation film, Joshikōsei konkurīto-zume satsujin-jiken (女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人事件, Concrete-Encased High School Girl Murder Case), was made about the incident by Katsuya Matsumura in 1995. Yujin Kitagawa (later a member of the music duo Yuzu) played the role of principal culprit.
Seiji Fujii wrote a novel about the case, 17-sai ("Seventeen years old"), which was turned into a manga by Yōji Kamata. Contrary to what had really happened, the novel shows a happy ending for the girl, who survives and her kidnappers are sentenced to jail for many years. Waita Uziga (author of Mai-chan's Daily Life) also made a controversial manga, Shin Gendai Ryōkiden, about the case, with much more violent and crude content.
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- "44 Days Of Hell – The murder story of Junko Furuta".
- "Junko Furata Murder Case" (PDF).
- Wijers-Hasegawa, Yumi, "Man who killed as child back in court", The Japan Times, 29 July 2004.
- Hawkins, Kristal. "Japanese Horror Story: The Torture of Junko Furuta." Crime Library. Retrieved on 7 August 2015.
- "Rapist, Murderer Given 20-Year Sentence". The Daily Yomiuri. Sunday 13 July 1991. Page 2. Retrieved from LexisNexis on 29 September 2009.
- 渥美饒兒『十七歳、悪の履歴書-女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人事件』作品社、2003年。ISBN 4878935723.
佐瀬稔『うちの子が、なぜ!―女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人事件』草思社、1990年。 ISBN 479420390X.
- Joshikôsei konkuriito-dume satsujin-jiken on IMDb
- "Filme mit Beteiligung von Yujin Kitagawa" (in German). Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- "Torture and Murder in Tokyo". The Japan Times Weekly Overseas Edition. 1989-08-19.