03/16/2020, 13.05
JAPAN
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Tokyo Archbishop grieves for the 19 disabled people killed, but the death penalty for S Uematsu won’t solve anything

In 2016, Uematsu, 30, killed and dismembered 19 disabled and injured 25 more because they "only create unhappiness" and there is "no need" for them to live. This idea is shared by many in Japan. “I hate you so much. I want to rip you apart,” said the mother of one of the victims. For Archbishop Kikuchi, “We can understand the reasons behind this change in the value given to human life in Japanese society.”

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Satoshi Uematsu (pictured), a 30-year-old Japanese man who killed 19 disabled people and dismembered their bodies as well as injured another 25, was sentenced to death.

Reacting to court’s verdict, Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, spoke to AsiaNews about the case, saying "I deeply feel for the 19 disabled people brutally killed by Satoshi Uematsu, but I maintain my position against the death penalty.”

On 26 July 2016, Uematsu, armed with several knives, entered the Tsukui Yamayuri-en care facility in in Sagamihara (Kanagawa prefecture) and attacked sleeping residents, killing 19 of them and dismembering their bodies. Afterwards, he turned himself into the police.

A few months before the attack, Uematsu had delivered a letter to Japan's parliament saying that he would kill 470 severely disabled people if authorised.

For Uematsu, Japan should become a country where disabled people are eliminated by euthanasia, since they "only create unhappiness" and there was "no need" for them to live.

"I do not accept Uematsu's justifications against disabled people at all," said Archbishop Kikuchi. However, the idea that "those who are unable to provide for themselves or produce nothing in society should be eliminated" is widely held in Japan.

 “I was shocked to hear that, on social media, many Japanese support Uematsu's ideas,” explained the prelate. “Such contempt for human life is not uncommon now in our society.”

Although Uematsu's defence team tried to show that he was mentally ill, allegedly acting under the influence of marijuana, he was found guilty "without any extenuating circumstance".

Miho, 19, was one of the victims. Her mother was among the people who attended the trial. For her, 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,” the mother said, according to public broadcaster NHK.

"I understand the feelings of the public against Uematsu,” said the archbishop, “and the fact that the majority supports the verdict of the death penalty.”

However, “proposing the abolition of the death penalty, or creating other tools of punishment for similar crimes, such as life imprisonment, is very important.”

Meanwhile, “We can start to understand the reasons behind this change in the value given to human life in Japanese society.”

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