TW: Murder, depression
Akihabara, often known as “electric town” or “the otaku’s closet,” was once primarily known as a center for technology and electric appliances, but has since evolved into a worldwide destination for anime lovers.
On Sunday, you have the opportunity to experience what is known as the pedestrian paradise; during this event, the roads are closed off to prevent vehicles from driving down the streets, allowing you to fully walk the street and enjoy shopping for your favorite anime figures while also taking a nice picture.
But pedestrians didn’t always have this paradise; after 35 years, this weekly holiday pedestrian paradise was shut down for two years due to this guy- Tomohiro Kato, an incredibly bright kid with a bright future who became so depressed that he rented a truck and drove through a crowd of people walking the streets of Akihabara, killing three people on impact before jumping out of the truck.
Tomohiro Kato was born in Aomori City with his two parents and younger brother. He had a pretty successful reputation in school, being the top of his class, a top track athlete, and even the president of his school’s tennis club. One of his biggest dreams was to design cars for Toyota when he grew up, and he was a huge otaku, writing in his yearbook about how he loved video games like Tales of Destiny and Gran.
Turismo Kato also described his personality as crooked at the time, society still had a slight stigma against otakus due to previous cases such as the otaku killer, but Tomohiro Kato was an otaku who lived a relatively normal life with a bright future ahead of him and his parents eager to see what their son would make of himself. Fast forward to high school, Tomohiro Kato was an otaku who lived relatively normal.
Tomohirokato was extremely unpopular among his classmates, so the stakes were raised and the pressure increased. According to claims made by his younger brother, his parents, particularly his mother, put enormous pressure on both Kato and his younger brother to excel in school. At times, they made Kato redo his homework to impress the teachers, and they even made him eat scraps off the floor or stand in the middle of the classroom.
And, similar to his brother’s account, his mother forced him to pick up rice off the floor and eat it; he explained that he tried so hard to do so that his school performance plummeted; he went from being at the top of his class to placing 300th out of 360 pupils.
Kato became very violent at home with his little brother, and a family neighbor claimed that she heard the boys beating up their own mother and how painful it was to have dinner with them fast forward through Kato’s high school years, and he takes the entrance exams to his number one choice of university.
While it had been his goal to work for Toyota, Kato’s employment consisted of simply checking the paintwork on vehicles, and because it was a temporary position, Kato became concerned about how he would pay off his debt.
He couldn’t make any friends at work and felt more at home on the internet, so he emailed his friends that he was considering suicide, which prompted his parents to have their son quit his job and return home. After some time at home, he was able to reconnect with some of his school friends, but it didn’t last long, so he returned to the internet, where he felt safe.
To express his frustrations and depression, he resorted to the internet. Kato’s only solace was the internet, and he became addicted to a cell phone. He began venting his rage on a dark web bulletin board called extreme exchange revised, which was used by people looking for accomplices in criminal activities, such as group suicides and the sale of illegal drugs, or, in Kato’s case, an arbitrary place to find friends.
He turned to the internet to vent his anger and depression. Kato’s only relief was the internet, and he developed a cell phone addiction. He began venting his wrath on a dark web bulletin board called extreme exchange revised, which was used by persons looking for collaborators in criminal crimes including group suicides and the sale of illegal narcotics, or, in Kato’s case, a random location to meet new people.
“The clicking sound of my cell phone echoes emptily in the room if only I had a girlfriend I wouldn’t have to live so miserably I don’t have a girlfriend just because of this my life has fallen apart I’m lower than trash because at least the trash gets recycled”
Of course, being on the internet, let alone the dark web, trolls would harass him and show no sympathy for what he was venting, but in his desperation to feel connected to society, he continued to invest in a community that gave him very little in return. After an investigation, one of the users found talking to Kato on the website agreed to an interview:
“At first, I didn’t feel any difference between him and the other, it’s like chatting with school friends. we talk about topics related to hobbies. slowly it became about his personal shortcomings. he wrote a lot of low self-esteem posts. self-negative posts like this, all the comments felt like he was talking to himself. it felt hard to talk to him, and the content of the posts was getting more and more depressing. I think I wanted to do something to help him. but we only met online doing something is not so easy”User/friend on the forum
Tomohiro Kato clocks in for work and can’t seem to find his uniform. As his coworkers laugh, he accuses them of hiding it in fear of losing his job. He angrily decides to quit. Later, the workers and the boss revealed that he wouldn’t have been fired for this, but they couldn’t help but feel that this event was the final straw for Tomohiro Kato. Baka to continuously rejects this, regardless of whether it is true or not. All of Tomohirokata’s actions built up to the crime that would ruin the lives of many others, including his own.
So Tomohirokato reaches his breaking point and turns to the only place he believes anyone would listen to him, an internet forum.
“Oh, I am hopeless what I want to do commit murder my dream to monopolize the tabloid tv shows.
I saw a loving couple at a riverbank I wish they were killed by being swept away by the river.
Since I was young I was forced to play a good boy I’m used to deceiving people if only I had a girlfriend I wouldn’t have to quit work I would never have become addicted to my mobile phone anybody with hope couldn’t possibly understand how I feel.
I don’t have a single friend and won’t in the future I’ll be ignored because I’m ugly “
Dr. Sayer Muto, director of the Tokyo Mental Health Academy, believes that Kato’s repeated postings leading up to the attack were a cry for help in their own right, that he was hoping for someone to confront him directly and stop him, but that this never happened.
: The real world is a society in which people must show their official stances but the internet is a society where people can freely express their real intentions, the internet was very important for me because I could frankly say what I really thought about I had nothing else that could replace the internet it was my relations with others on the internet that I really valued:
Kato had documented his plans to kill people in Akihabara up until the last half hour. He is said to have spent about 20 minutes choosing knives in a military goods shop alone. The shop sales record showed that he had spent about 24900 yen on six knives, including a dagger with a 12.5-centimeter blade, the same dagger that he would use to kill innocent people in just a few days.
Tomohirokato is seen on surveillance footage smiling as if he doesn’t care about anything while talking to the store owner, who later told police that Kato was simply telling him how far he traveled to come to the store while showing his driver’s license. He was also seen making a stabbing motion with his hands in the footage. Not long after that, Kato does what he does best and posts about his purchases.
He returns to the store and purchases a pair of gloves and a telescopic baton, after which he travels to Akihabara to sell his personal computer and some software in order to raise funds to rent a 5-ton Isuzu elf truck the next day, the streets are closed for pedestrians to walk through and enjoy their shopping, and Tomohiro Kato makes his final posts for the day.
“I will kill peopel in Akihabara. I will crash my car and when the car becomes unusable I will use a knife. goodbye, everyone!
I’m sleepy headache didn’t heal
I got on the train one train earlier, I have 30 mins left.
this is terrible rain, I prepared everything perfectly
severe traffic jam, I wonder if I will arrive on time.
Shibuya is terrible, it’s sunny here now.
I arrived in Akihabara, today I pedestrian paradise day isn’t it?”
Tomohirokato arrives in Akihabara and approaches the crossroads in the middle of the street, disregarding a red light. He accelerates and slams into the throng. When he collides with the cab, he hits five people, and the windshield breaks. Other witnesses believe it to be a traffic accident, but immediately Tomohiro exits the truck, he takes out his knife and begins stabbing pedestrians on the street. Witnesses allege he yelled as he attacked 12 people, killing four and injuring eight while many more raced to flee the scene.
Other civilians rushed to the victims’ aid, but it wasn’t long until Tomohirokata was surrounded against a wall by a police officer who brandished a gun at him. Kato dropped his knife and was arrested on the spot, and a rare video of the exact moment he was apprehended was later posted.
“I was bored of life, I was sick of everything, and I didn’t care who I killed,” Kato tells cops this time. Other websites and forums on the internet picked up on the news and began speculating about users to try to figure out who was the perpetrator. There were many accusations, but Tomi Rocato sped up the investigation by confessing to everything and having all of the thousands of posts he made on the website extracted from his phone.
Kato was reported by a police officer as being mostly cooperative throughout questioning, but unapologetic, and at times breaking down in tears confessing the murder.
“I wanted someone to call the authorities and stop me”
TRIAL AND VERDICT
On June 8, 2008, one of the deadliest massacres in Tokyo’s history occurred. The event further stigmatized otakus, and Kato was brought before a judge to explain his acts.
“It is true that I am the culprit please let me use this occasion to apologize when asked why he went on a rampage he put much into his reasoning into the forum he became obsessed with there are three reasons one is my own thinking the two others are harassment against me on the online bulletin board and my way of life which deeply depended on the online board there was someone who passed himself off as me and there was harassment against me there I believed my intention to stop the harassment would be conveyed if my crime was reported although I can’t remember some parts of what happened I am certainly the one who committed the crime I’m sorry for the people who died and got injured”
He clarified that he committed the crime in such a way that a massacre would never happen again. Prosecutors said he came up with the idea of getting people to acknowledge his existence by erupting in rage and committing a major crime. The lawyer responded, “You could have used another bulletin board,” to which Kato responded, “But that was the only place where I could truly be myself.”
After a 30-minute recess, the judge returned and stated, “We examined all mental disorders and examined the diagnosis of mental disorders in a broader sense such as mental retardation and dissociative disorders, but none of them were applicable to the suspect at the time of the crime,” adding, “We examined all mental disorders and examined the diagnosis of mental disorders in a broader sense such as mental retardation and dissociative disorders, but none of them were applicable to the suspect at the time of the crime.” According to Mihirokato.
He paused three times before rushing through the junction. “I considered leaving Akihabara and returning my rental car, but I have nowhere to go if I don’t cause an issue, and I can’t go back on the bulletin board if I don’t cause an incident. I don’t have family, I don’t have a job, and it doesn’t matter in some ways because I didn’t even have a place to stay.”
When asked if his childhood problems with his mother were a factor at the time, he surprised the lawyer by saying he didn’t want to blame her or try to avoid responsibility three years after the incident. Kato was condemned to death in 2011.
Since the massacre, the weekly holiday of Akihabara’s pedestrian road has been blocked for two years. Every year on June 8th, people gather at the intersection corner to create a monument for the massacre victims.