Murder of Junko Furuta

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Junko Furuta
古田 順子
Born(1971-01-18)18 January 1971[1][2]
Died4 January 1989(1989-01-04) (aged 17)
Cause of deathMurder (traumatic shock)[3]
Body discovered29 March 1989
Kōtō, Tokyo, Japan

Junko Furuta (Japanese: 古田 順子, Hepburn: Furuta Junko, 18 January 1971 – 4 January 1989) was a 17-year-old Japanese high school student who was abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered. Her abuse was mainly perpetrated by four male teenagers, Hiroshi Miyano (18), Jō Ogura (17), Shinji Minato (16), and Yasushi Watanabe (17), and took place over a 40-day period starting on 25 November 1988. In Japan, the case is known as the "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), as her body was discovered inside of a concrete-filled drum. The prison sentences served by the perpetrators ranged from seven to 20 years. The brutality of the case shocked Japan, and it is said to be the worst case of juvenile criminality in the country's post-war history.[4]

Background

Furuta was born in 1971 and grew up in Misato, Saitama Prefecture. She lived with her parents, her older brother, and her younger brother.[5] She attended Yashio-Minami High School, and worked a part-time job at a plastic molding factory from October 1988 in order to save up money for a planned graduation trip.[6] Furuta also accepted a job at an electronics retailer, where she planned on working after graduation. In high school, Furuta was well-liked by her classmates, and had high grades and infrequent absences.[4]

The perpetrators of the crime were four male teenagers: Hiroshi Miyano (宮野裕史, Miyano Hiroshi, 18 years old), Jō Ogura (小倉譲, Ogura Jō, 17), Shinji[a] Minato (湊伸治, Minato Shinji, 16), and Yasushi Watanabe (渡邊恭史, Watanabe Yasushi, 17), who in court documents were referred to as "A", "B", "C", and "D", respectively. Two others, Tetsuo Nakamura and Koichi Ihara, were referred to as "G" and "L".[7]

The four members of the group had all dropped out of high school in summer 1988, and became involved in organized crime as chinpira (low-ranking yakuza). They began using Minato's family home in Adachi, Tokyo, as a hangout. Beginning in October, they engaged in various crimes including theft (purse snatching and car theft), assault, and rape. On 8 November, the group abducted a 19-year-old woman in Adachi and gang raped her in a hotel there. On 27 December, during Furuta's confinement, the group abducted another 19-year-old woman in Adachi and gang raped her in a motel.[7][8][9]

Kidnapping and abuse

Murder of Junko Furuta
LocationAdachi, Tokyo, Japan
Date25 November 1988 – 4 January 1989
Attack type
Abduction, rape, torture, murder
VictimJunko Furuta
Perpetrators
  • Hiroshi Miyano (now Hiroshi Yokoyama)
  • Jō Ogura (now Jō Kamisaku)
  • Shinji Minato
  • Yasushi Watanabe
VerdictGuilty on all counts
Convictions
SentenceMiyano:
20 years in prison (served 20)
Ogura:
5–10 years in prison (served 10)
Minato:
5–9 years in prison (served 9)
Watanabe:
5–7 years in prison (served 7)
CompensationMiyano's parents pay ¥50 million (about US$350,000; $800,000 today) to Furuta's parents

On the evening of 25 November 1988, Miyano and Minato rode around Misato on their motorcycles with the intention of robbing and raping local women, and spotted Furuta, who was on her way home from her part-time job. Acting on Miyano's orders, Minato kicked Furuta off her bicycle and fled the scene. Miyano, under the pretense of witnessing the attack by coincidence, approached Furuta and offered to walk her home. Upon gaining her trust, Miyano took Furuta to a nearby warehouse and threatened her, claiming to be a member of the yakuza and saying that he would spare her life only if she followed his orders.[7][8]

That night, Miyano took Furuta by taxi to a hotel in Adachi, where he raped her. He later called Minato's house and bragged to Ogura about the rape, after which Ogura told him not to let Furuta leave. In the early morning hours of 26 November, Miyano took Furuta to a park near the hotel, where Ogura, Minato, and Watanabe were waiting. They told her they knew where she lived, and that the yakuza would kill her family if she attempted to escape. Minato agreed to allow Furuta to be confined in a room on the second floor of his house in Adachi for the purpose of gang raping her. Furuta was held captive for the next 39 days.[7][8]

On 27 November, Furuta's parents contacted the police about her disappearance. To discourage further investigation, the kidnappers forced Furuta to call her mother three times to convince her that she had run away but was safe and staying with friends. When Minato's parents were present at the house where she was being confined, Furuta was forced to act as his girlfriend.[10] The group dropped this pretense when it became clear that Minato's parents would not report them to the police, and they later claimed that they did not intervene because they were afraid of their own son, who had been increasingly violent toward them.[11]

On 28 November, Miyano and the others, along with Nakamura and Ihara, gang raped Furuta for the first time. The group shaved her pubic hair, forced her to dance to music while naked and masturbate in front of them, and left her on the balcony in the middle of the night with little clothing. They inserted objects into her vagina and anus, including a lit match, a metal rod, and a bottle, and forced her to drink alcohol and large amounts of milk and water. She was also forced to smoke two cigarettes at once and inhale paint thinner. In one incident in the middle of the month, Miyano burned Furuta's thighs and hands using lighter fluid.[7][8]

By the end of December, Furuta was severely malnourished after being fed only small amounts of food and eventually only milk. Due to her injuries and burns, she became unable to go to the downstairs toilet, and was thereafter confined to the floor of the room in a state of extreme physical and mental weakness. Her appearance had been drastically altered after several brutal beatings, with her face becoming so swollen that it was difficult to make out her features, and her infected wounds had started to emit a foul odor.[7][8]

Murder and investigation

On 4 January 1989, after losing money in a game of mahjong the night before, Miyano decided to take his anger out on Furuta. He ignited a candle and dripped hot wax on her face, placed two shortened candles on her eyelids, and forced her to drink her own urine. Furuta was lifted and kicked, fell onto a stereo unit, and began a fit of convulsions. To prevent them from being stained with blood, the group covered their hands in plastic bags before beating her with their fists and an iron exercise ball, and dropped the ball on her abdomen several times. Miyano poured lighter fluid on Furuta and lit her on fire; she made weak attempts to put herself out, but eventually stopped moving. The assault lasted for about two hours, after which Furuta died at 10 a.m.[7][8]

Less than 24 hours after her death, Minato's brother called to tell him that Furuta appeared to be dead. Afraid that their crime would be discovered, the group wrapped Furuta's body in a blanket and placed it in a large travel bag, then put the bag in a metal drum and filled it with wet concrete. At around 8:00 p.m. on 5 January, the group drove to a vacant lot near a construction site on the island of Wakasu in Kōtō, Tokyo, and dumped the drum there.[7][8]

In early 1989, Miyano and Ogura were arrested for their kidnapping and gang rape of a 19-year-old woman in December 1988. When police interrogated Miyano, he falsely believed that Ogura had already confessed to Furuta's murder and that the police were aware of his culpability, so he told them where to find her body. The police were initially puzzled by his confession, as they were questioning him about the murder of a different woman and her seven-year-old son which had occurred nine days prior to Furuta's abduction, a case which remains unsolved.[citation needed] The drum containing Furuta's body was recovered on 29 March, and she was identified via fingerprints. Minato, Watanabe, Minato's brother, Nakamura, and Ihara were also arrested.[7][8]

Prosecution

The identities of the defendants were sealed by the court, as they were all juveniles at the time of the crime. Journalists from the Shūkan Bunshun tabloid uncovered their identities and published them, arguing that the accused did not deserve to have their right to anonymity upheld, given the severity of the crime.[10] In July 1990, all four were found guilty and sentenced by the Tokyo District Court for "abduction for the purpose of sexual assault, confinement, rape, murder, and abandonment of a corpse".[7] All four appealed, and in July 1991, three were re-sentenced to longer terms by the Tokyo High Court.[8]

  • Hiroshi Miyano was originally sentenced to 17 years in prison, and re-sentenced to 20 years,[12] the longest sentence typically given in Japan short of life imprisonment, which had been sought by the prosecution.[12] Miyano's parents sold their family home and paid Furuta's parents ¥50 million (about US$350,000; $800,000 today) in compensation, which Miyano's defense had presented as mitigating evidence.[13] The results of a expert psychiatric evaluation established that Miyano suffered from mild microcephaly, which "did not impair his brain function, but delayed his emotional development". After his release in 2009, he changed his last name to "Yokoyama". He reportedly boasted about his yakuza connections and involvement in pyramid schemes. In 2013, Miyano was arrested on suspicion of bank fraud and placing scam telephone calls, but remained silent and was not indicted.[14]
  • Jō Ogura was sentenced to five to ten years in prison. He was released in 1999, and changed his last name to "Kamisaki". He worked in IT jobs after his release, but turned to organized crime after his past became known to those around him. In 2004, Ogura was arrested for assaulting Takatoshi Isono, an acquaintance whom he thought his girlfriend was involved with. Ogura shoved Isono into the trunk of his car and drove him to his mother's bar in Misato, where he assaulted him for five hours.[15] Ogura was sentenced to four years in prison for the crime, and was released in 2009.[16][14]
  • Shinji Minato was originally sentenced to five to six years in prison, and re-sentenced to five to nine years. His parents and brother were not charged. After his release in 1998, Minato moved in with his mother. In 2018, Minato (then unemployed) was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after allegedly beating a 32-year-old man in the shoulder with a metal baton and slashing his throat with a knife on a road in Kawaguchi, Saitama.[16][17][14]
  • Yasushi Watanabe was originally sentenced to three to four years in prison, and re-sentenced to five to seven years. He further appealed his verdict to the Supreme Court of Japan, but the appeal was denied in July 1992. He was released in 1996, and left his hometown to live with his mother.[8][14]

Reaction to verdict

From the time the case was first reported by the media, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, the investigating body, received calls and letters from the public demanding that the perpetrators be severely punished, including by life imprisonment or with the death penalty. The Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office, which had sought life imprisonment only for Miyano in the trial, was criticized for not seeking life sentences for the other perpetrators, or the death penalty. The Tokyo District Court also received a considerable number of calls and letters which criticized the perceived lightness of its sentencing.[18][19]

In the trial for the 1988 "Nagoya couple murder case" (名古屋アベック殺人事件, Nagoya abekku satsujin jiken), the Nagoya District Court sentenced the main suspect, a 19-year-old boy, to death on 28 June 1989, and the second suspect, a 17-year-old boy, to life imprisonment; this case drew comparisons to the Furuta case. Hiroshi Itakura, a professor of law at Nihon University, commented that the difference in sentencing was explained by the difference in the number of victims (two in the Nagoya case, versus one in the Furuta case): under the Nagayama standard [ja], the legal standard generally used for the death penalty, one murder victim means life imprisonment or less is given, while two victims is a borderline case. Itakura stated that the prosecution in the Nagoya case had demonstrated a clear murderous intent with premeditation, while in the Furuta case, the intent to murder was more uncertain.[20]

Notes

  1. ^ Some sources attest his first name as "Nobuharu", an alternate reading of the kanji 伸治.

See also

References

  1. ^ "古田順子の両親の現在や生い立ち!女子高生コンクリート事件の被害者まとめ" [Junko Furuta's parents' current status and upbringing! Summary of victims of high school girl concrete incident]. MATOMEDIA [Matomedia]|Entertainment/gossip/incident summary (in Japanese). 4 January 2020. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  2. ^ "古田順子の生い立ちや両親の現在~飯島愛コンクリート事件関与のデマも総まとめ" [Junko Furuta's upbringing and current status of her parents - A complete summary of rumors related to the Ai Iijima concrete incident]. NewSee|Summary of current status, entertainment, gossip, and incidents of celebrities (in Japanese). 10 February 2020. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  3. ^ Weekly Asahi Geinō 1989-04-20, page 174
  4. ^ a b "古田順子の生い立ちや両親の現在~飯島愛コンクリート事件関与のデマも総まとめ" [Junko Furuta's upbringing and the present of her parents-A summary of the hoaxes involved in the Ai Iijima Concrete Incident]. NewSee (in Japanese). 10 December 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  5. ^ douga bubble (26 December 2017). 女子高生コンクリ殺人 当時の報道6 [Concrete murder of a high school girl Reported at the time 6] (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  6. ^ "古田順子の両親の現在や生い立ち!女子高生コンクリート事件の被害者まとめ" [Junko Furuta's parents now and upbringing! Victim summary of high school girl concrete incident]. MATOMEDIA|Entertainment news summary (in Japanese). 4 January 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "東京地方裁判所 平成元年(合わ)72号 判決 - 大判例" [Tokyo District Court Judgment No. 72 of 1989 - Grand precedent]. daihanrei.minorusan.net (in Japanese). Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Full text of the Tokyo High Court's ruling on the Junko Furuta case" (in Japanese). Tokyo High Court. 12 July 1991.
  9. ^ Tanihara, Keisuke; Kojima, Satoru; Nakajima, Yutaka; Mizuno, Takeya (1 July 2005). "The Media Naming of Adult Criminals with Juvenile Criminal Records: The 1989 Concrete-Packing Murder Case and 2004 Assault Case (Part 1)". Information and Communication Studies. 33. Bunkyo University: Faculty of Information and Communications: 331–344.
  10. ^ a b Hawkins, Kristal (21 February 2013). "Japanese Horror Story: The Torture of Junko Furuta". Crime Library. Archived from the original on 22 February 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  11. ^ Yumi, Wijers-Hasegawa (29 July 2004). "Man who killed as child back in court". The Japan Times.
  12. ^ a b "Rapist, Murderer Given 20-Year Sentence". Yomiuri Shimbun. 13 July 1991. p. 2. Retrieved from LexisNexis on 29 September 2009.
  13. ^ "Chilling Details About The Murder of Junko Furuta AKA The Concrete-Encased High School Girl Murder". Ranker. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d "綾瀬コンクリ殺人の元少年ら4人 監禁致傷や詐欺など3人が再犯". Livedoor News (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 6 October 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  15. ^ Yumi, Wijers-Hasegawa (29 July 2004). "Man who killed as child back in court". The Japan Times.
  16. ^ a b "Junko Furuta killer again on trial: Chaos in the courtroom". TokyoReporter. 25 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Junko Furuta: Killer arrested for attempted murder 3 decades later". TokyoReporter. 10 September 2018.
  18. ^ Asahi Shimbun, 21 April 1989, evening edition, p. 19, "波紋広がる女高生殺人 少年法改正の論議が活発に [High school girl murder causes controversy; active debate over juvenile law reform]"
  19. ^ Asahi Shimbun, 13 July 1990, evening edition, p.3, "犯行軌跡・量刑どう判断 女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人、19日判決」「『求刑軽い』の声も 法曹界は『妥当』が大勢 [How to determine the course of the crime and the sentence? Murder of high school girl encased in concrete, verdict to be sentencing on the 19th" "Some say 'sentencing is too light', but the majority of legal professionals say 'it's appropriate'"]"
  20. ^ Shūkan Bunshun, 2 August 1990, p. 40–42, "大特集 肝心なことを書かない新聞」『名古屋アベック殺人と女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人 「死刑と17年の落差」』[Special Feature: Newspapers that don't write the important stuff: Nagoya Couple Murder and Concrete-Encased High School Girl Murder: The Gap Between the Death Penalty and 17 Years]"