‘I still can’t believe that that girl could cause such an incident. She was an honor student, the kind of polite girl who would give letters of appreciation to all her coaches and supervisors upon graduation.”
A 15-year-old girl was arrested in the stabbing of a mother and daughter in Shibuya. The officials of the local sports club, where she attended until her graduation from elementary school, could not hide their bewilderment.
On the night of August 20, a 15-year-old girl (A) stabbed an unacquainted mother and daughter from behind with a kitchen knife on a street in Shibuya Ward, seriously wounding them and leaving them with a three-month recovery. She left her parents’ house in Toda City, Saitama Prefecture, saying, “I’m going to cram school.” She walked 50 minutes from Shinjuku Station to the dimly lit alley where the crime took place.
At the time of the incident, the normally quiet residential area of Shibuya was abuzz with cries and screams. A mother who had been stabbed was protecting her daughter.
Why are you doing this to me?
The video shows the mother protecting her daughter and shouting, “Why are you doing this to me, who are you? The girl, who had no shoes, no ID, and have two knives and one kitchen knife, repeatedly asked the man holding her down, “Is that girl dead?” Ms. A asked the man who held her down repeatedly, “Is she dead?”
Ms. A told the police, “I practiced killing my mother and brother. I wanted to see if I could really kill people,” and “I wanted to get the death penalty.” What drove the girl, who was only in the third year of junior high school, to commit such a heinous act? A member of the sports club who spoke at the beginning of this article reveals her true character.
She was trusted by her teammates and practiced energetically with a cheerful personality. Her younger brother also belonged to the same club, and her mother would pick her up at the end of every practice session. She got along well with her younger brother, and she would stop by a convenience store together after practice, and their family relationship seemed to be good. After entering junior high school, I joined a different athletic club. When I saw her for the first time after a long time, I jokingly asked her, “Have you lost weight? She replied in a friendly manner, “On the contrary, I gained weight.”
However, within a year of entering junior high school, her life began to take a turn for the worse. A neighbor confided a particular concern to us from Ms. A’s mother.
She said, ‘My daughter was bullied in the third semester of her first year in junior high school, and she couldn’t go to school much anymore. I was surprised because I had always seen her in good spirits.’
A classmate from Ms. A’s junior high school said,
“The club Ms. A was in was divided into several groups, and there was a clear division of power. Everyone knew that the atmosphere in the club was not good. I don’t know if there was any bullying, but it’s quite possible that the relationships made them feel bad.”
What further pushed Ms. A out of school was the new type of coronavirus that began to spread at the same time she entered junior high school. A neighbor of Ms. A’s told us, “The new coronavirus began to spread at the same time she entered junior high school.”
“Ms. A’s mother started working from home after the outbreak of the new coronavirus, and it seems that she stayed home most of the time during the day. They used to be a close family, but recently I rarely see Ms. A and her mother talking to each other. Last week, Ms. A’s brother and mother were out together.”
Ms. A stated to the police, “I didn’t like the fact that I was starting to resemble the parts of my mother that I didn’t like. With her daughter out of school and her mother working from home, Ms. A spent the next two years without the opportunity to play the sports she loved or interact with friends or adults.” Hiroshi Yahata, a clinical psychologist, speculates on the impact of the new Corona on Ms. A’s psyche.
“Adolescents are hypersensitive to pressure and interference from their parents. During such a period, the girl had increased contact time with her mother and had almost no time for herself alone. The COVID-19 crisis must have increased the stress between parent and child.”
After the crime, Ms. A has been honestly responding to interrogation, but her statements about her motive have changed two or three times. Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii, an expert on juvenile crime, explains the girl’s capacity for judgment.
“When Ms. A said she wanted to be executed, I think she said it spontaneously, remembering the words of the murderer she saw on the news in another case. That is how confused she is now. It’s important that we get to the bottom of how she got into that state.”
Did the girl’s unsuccessful friendships and the never-ending COVID-19 crisis cause her to lose her mind? The motive for her action is urgently needed to be clarified.
From the September 9, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Shinji Hasuo, courtesy of a nearby restaurant