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4 men arrested over drowning of 17-year-old youth


Four men have been arrested on suspicion of causing the death of a 17-year-old youth by making him fall into a river in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture.

According to police, the incident occurred at around 6 a.m. on Monday. Fuji TV reported that the suspects called 119 reporting that their friend had disappeared after falling into the Tega River. Police and fire department personnel searched the river and found Ryuta Sato, a 17-year-old office employee from Abiko City, Chiba Prefecture, on the bottom of the river about four hours later.

Sato was naked when he was found. He was taken to hospital where he was confirmed dead.

Police said the suspects, Yohei Kojima, 22, Masumi Watanabe, 21, Junta Okada, 20, and a 19-year-old man who cannot be named because he is a minor, have been arrested on suspicion of murdering Sato by making him fall from a bridge into the three-meter-deep river where he drowned.

Local media reported the suspects told police that they and Sato went to the river to observe the sunrise from the bridge and that Sato had dropped his wallet in the river and went in to look for it alone.

Police said some of the suspects indicated that Sato and Kojima had a falling out over a money issue involving a couple of million yen. Police believe the group forced Sato to strip and then forced him to hang on to the bridge's parapet. Kojima and the other three told Sato that if he did not want to get beaten up, he should let go and fall into the river. Then Watanabe and the 19-year-old who were holding Sato's hands let him go, sending him into the river.

The suspects except for Kojima have admitted to the charge. Kojima has admitted that he was at the scene but insisted he was not involved in sending Sato to his death.

© Japan Today

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at their ages, should know better than acting brainless, deserve jail time

5 ( +7 / -2 )

So, will this be as another bullying case resulting in the death of a minor?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japanese society is sick.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

TV news also reported that two suspects held on to him for 10 minutes before the oldest suspect pushed them out of the way, making the victim fall so I'm sure his arms were too tired to swim effectively.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Unfortunately, these males (I won't use "men") will only get limited jail time. They should be spending a long time in jail, but they won't. And the 19 year old "minor"??? Will probably get off with even a lighter punishment.

Also, just noted something. The victim was 17 years old. But was noted as an "office employee". At 17? One wonders about the circumstances that led him to being an office worker at 17.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

One wonders about the circumstances that led him to being an office worker at 17.

Well, he would have graduated junior high and decided against going to high school. perhaps he couldn't get into public school and couldn't afford private school; or he simply didn't want to continue with education, and preferred to get a head start in the workforce. Maybe he went to a one-year-college after JHS to get some kind of qualification for the first rung of the business world. Lots of people are opting for employment over further education.

So, it's irrelevant.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

3 m3n and a boy. So sad.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Regardless of the reason, who is the party responsible for putting the boy into the river? The article says that the men forced him to strip and hang on a bridge, but how did the men manage to force him to do it? Did they physically get involved? Or did they coach him to do it? They're scumbags in either case, but I think that's a key part in proving guilt for the prosecution.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Nineteen years old" should not be considered "a minor".

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Maybe they should spend a long time in a river too. What a bunch of sick goons. They should be put away for a long time but they will probably "apologize" and get off light.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A couple of million yen at 17? So like at least 20,000$ that was presumably loaned to a 17 year old and not paid back? I don't usually like jumping to conclusions but I think its safe to say this was an organized crime issue.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

For those saying that a 19-year-old shouldn't be considered a minor, I think it's because the age where you're considered a real adult in Japan is 20.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )


So, it's irrelevant.

Actually, I respectfully disagree. It may well be relevant.

I recognise that there are lots of reasons why a 17 year old may be working rather than being in high school. However, the ordinary 17 year old in Japan would be in high school. I have met a number of Japanese over the years who have gone to work after middle school/junior high, many of whom were regular, productive members of society. However, almost without exception, most of them were from lower income families and lived in areas that reflected that. As a consequence, their options were much more limited as they completed junior high school. So, many went to work because they had no other choice.

It is just that when I combine the fact this was a 17 year old boy who was working with the fact that this appears to be a dispute over a couple of million yen, I cannot help but believe that the circumstances that led him to be working instead of studying may also have contributed to finding himself in a position he was in.

So, as I said, one (well, me, anyway) wonders what the story of his life is that led to him being on that bridge. That's all I was trying to express.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Where these guys some type of loan sharks trying to extract the money back? Well they certainly will not get any now that he is dead. Some of their associates will probably try to hit up his next of kin if he had any insurance on him to get their money back.

These 3 should do hard time. That was pure torture done to the kid, as well as doing business with a minor. I wonder if any of them had worked with the kid and knew him and took advantage of his youthfulness.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Deborah Lansford,

For those saying that a 19-year-old shouldn't be considered a minor, I think it's because the age where you're considered a real adult in Japan is 20.

I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful. I think most of the JT contributors that comment understand that Japanese become adults legally at 20. Which is what I think you mean when you say "real adult".

However, I think many posters, myself included, believe that many individuals that are legally minors should, in fact, be tried and prosecuted as adults. Because when, say, a 19 year old kills someone and gets treated as a minor, there is a problem. Particularly now when the LDP is proposing giving the vote to those that are 18 or older.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Weather at 6AM in Kashiwa has been trending in the low 40's (F). Water after a night of cold temps couldn't have been easy to swim in. (wunderground.com)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Really disgusting to read.

I hope they are charged with murder and spend most of the rest of their lives in prison. Throwing a kid into a freezing river in January - they had to know (or should have known) that they were likely sending him to his death.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I watched the news of these murderers being hauled away and Kojima definitely looks like a criminal. They should all get the maximum for murder, including the 19 year old. But this is Japan -- the three above 20 will get a year or two, tops, and the one who is 19 will get a couple of months in a reformatory, if even that. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old will be dead forever.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

"Nineteen years old" should not be considered "a minor".

I still will never understand how they hide the identity of a 19 year old murderer yet plaster pictures/identity all over the news of the 17 year old victim.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Safety Japan" strikes again

1 ( +1 / -0 )

and Kojima definitely looks like a criminal

Well that seals it then.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I wonder if this is going to result in a civil lawsuit. Wrongful death suit. Wow! Terrible to see this happen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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