- "The crime, which took the lives of 19 people, was extremely heinous and caused damage that is incomparable to any other case."
- Uematsu said that people with disabilities have "no point in living," and that he "had to do it for the sake of society."
- It emerged that Uematsu had left his job at the home months earlier, and had been forcibly hospitalized.
A Japanese man who fatally stabbed 19 residents of a care home for people with disabilities has been sentenced to death by hanging by presiding judge Kiyoshi Aonuma. “The attacks were premeditated, and the defendant was acting consistently to achieve his goal,” Aonuma said, citing the violence of his crime.
“The crime, which took the lives of 19 people, was extremely heinous and caused damage that is incomparable to any other case,” he added, in a courtroom filled with family members of the victims. The accused, Satoshi Uematsu sat dressed in a black suit sat looking calmly at the judge during the court session.
Uematsu, a former employee of Tsukui Lily Garden facility in Sagamihara, southwest Tokyo, carried out the attack in 2016. He targeted the residents as they slept. Twenty-four other residents and two caregivers were injured during the attack, which is considered one of Japan’s worst post-war mass killings.
The 30-year-old, who was described by his neighbors as a polite and helpful person, admitted to the rampage during hearings at Yokohama district court, but pleaded not guilty. His lawyers claimed that he was suffering from a psychiatric disorder at the time of the attack. The prosecutors, on the other hand, argued that Uematsu was capable of taking responsibility for the attack and should be executed for his crimes. The rampage was “inhumane,” and “left no room for leniency,” prosecutors had argued last month.
The accused had reportedly said that he will not appeal whatever decision the court hands down. Uematsu, however, defended himself, saying that his actions do not deserve the death penalty. He had stated that he wanted to eradicate all disabled people in the horrifying attack.
Uematsu turned himself in after the heinous act, carrying bloodied knives. He has shown no remorse for the attack. He told Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun daily that people with disabilities have “no point in living,” and that he “had to do it for the sake of society.” Uematsu had written a letter outlining plans to attack the home, claiming that “disabled people only create unhappiness.”
It emerged that Uematsu had left his job at the home months earlier, and had been forcibly hospitalized after revealing to his colleagues that he intended to kill disabled people at the center. He was discharged after twelve days after the doctor thought that he would no longer be a threat. He broke into the facility in the early hours of July 26, 2016, fatally stabbing ten women and nine men, aged 19 to 70, before driving to the police station to hand himself in.
A mother to one of the victims, identified publicly as 19-year-old woman, Miho, said that Uematsu “didn’t need a future.”
“I hate you so much. I want to rip you apart. Even the most extreme penalty is light for you. I will never forgive you . . . please bring back my most precious daughter . . . you are still alive. It’s not fair. It’s wrong,” she said. Despite having elected two disabled lawmakers last year, some critics feel that the country still falls short of fully integrating people with disabilities.