crime

Kawasaki boy told friend on Line he might get killed

46 Comments

Police investigating the murder of a 13-year-old boy said Tuesday that the victim had sent a message to a girl on the instant messaging app Line in January, saying he might be killed soon by some guys he knew.

More details have begun to emerge about the murder of Ryota Uemura, whose naked body was found last Friday morning on the bank of the Tama River in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. He had been stabbed several times in the neck, face and arms.

A classmate of Uemura saw him in a park in January, with a black eye and other bruises on his face. Uemura told his friend that he had become involved with a group of older students from another school last November, and that they had asked him to shoplift something. When he refused, they had beaten him up.

Street surveillance camera footage showed Uemura pushing a bike and walking with three other boys about the same age as the victim toward the riverbank early in the morning of Feb 20. Later on, the footage shows only three boys returning. An autopsy revealed that Uemura was killed at around 2 a.m. and his body was found at 6 a.m.

Police found a box cutter not too far from the body, which they believe was one of the weapons. The victim's clothes and shoes had been burned in a nearby public toilet.

His mother told police that she had seen Ryota the previous night (Feb 19) and asked him if he wanted anything to eat, TBS reported. However, he said he didn't and went out. That was the last his mother saw of him.

Police have also learned that Uemura seldom went to school after the New Year holidays in January. A female teacher visited the boy's home five times but no one was home. She also called the home more than 30 times and was only able to speak to Uemura once -- on Feb 16. She told him there was an exam coming up and he had to attend. Uemura said he would but never showed up at school again.

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Street surveillance camera footage showed Uemura pushing a bike and walking with three other boys about the same age as the victim toward the riverbank early in the morning of Feb 20. Later on, the footage shows only three boys returning. An autopsy revealed that Uemura was killed at around 2 a.m. and his body was found at 6 a.m.

Was he reported missing prior to the body being discovered? I can't believe a 13-year old boy can be out so late without the police being notified...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I can't imagine the kind of life this kid was living to predict someone was going to kill him. I'm not blaming him at all, just got in with the wrong crowd. Seems like the parents gave him a very long leash, so to speak. I'm not blaming them either, not knowing what their situation is. When I was 13, there would be no way I'd be let out in the middle of the night. It's strange that he would even want to leave the house, if he feared for his life. Just a very bizarre and sad story.

16 ( +16 / -1 )

...but then again, it sounds like his parents weren't exactly interested judging from the final paragraph. Poor kid :-(

6 ( +9 / -3 )

the boys who did this should hang and also ryota's parents should spend a few years in prison for child neglect.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

A female teacher visited the boy’s home five times but no one was home. She also called the home more than 30 times and was only able to speak to Uemura once—on Feb 16. She told him there was an exam coming up and he had to attend. Uemura said he would but never showed up at school again.

If this is true, I wonder what the parents were doing and what they did/say after they saw his black eye?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

A female teacher visited the boy’s home five times but no one was home. She also called the home more than 30 times and was only able to speak to Uemura once—on Feb 16. She told him there was an exam coming up and he had to attend. Uemura said he would but never showed up at school again.

At least there was one person who was interested in this child's welfare. His teacher.

16 ( +17 / -2 )

As I have said in another related article... I don't think is wise at the moment to stigmatize the parents of the boy just yet.

The boy came from a small island... only that some times means that the boy came along to Tokyo, while the parents stayed in the island... because of who knows what reasons.

So, accusing the parents at this point, I think is not a good idea.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

I hope they get the death penalty.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Too many unanswered questions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Saw the boy's photo. I pictured someone a bit older looking, but he looks so young....poor kid! RIP

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It hurts to read this story - RIP little man!

The mother moved with him from the island where his father chose to be a fisherman. They divorced. The boy was with his mother who was struggling to make a living in Kawasaki.

Seems she didn't have control over her son but also she should have asked for help. I don't blame her but hope other parents in similar situation learn from this case.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

I feel for the loss but one major point that has not been pointed out by anyone including media reporters is explain why the boy could not change schools in Japan. Unlike other countries it is not as easy as it sounds to change school due to an ancient outdated school system rule and law. Even if the parents tried to move the student, the student is tied to wherever the parents are registered. If the parents move to a different prefecture the process is even more difficult and the student is not guaranteed a slot and on top of that is a mountain of paperwork.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So, he had been beaten up, hadn't gone to school and had told a friend he was being intimidated? This kid should have been on social services' watch list for a long time before his murder the teacher should have reported him for not attending school and his parents should have also been on the social services' list. The cops should have also been involved long before his murder.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I wish he had told someone who could have done something to save him. People shouldnt judge the parents, it isn't easy to make money to support a family, especially after a divorce, something has to give, and a boy of his age shouldn't need very close monitoring. Try making a child go to school forcing them to, when they are that big and you have to get to work in the morning before you judge the poor woman. Disillusioned, what social services? They are virtually non-existent here, and do not have the powers child services do in other countries. The kid needed the help of the cops and his mother. I am so sad for him and for his family that he did't feel able to ask them to help him.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Actually LaWren, they do have a very large family services group here that is empowered to protect children and, children under the age of 16 must attend school. If they don't attend school it becomes a matter for family services, which is why I say the teacher should have notified them. The parents should have been interviewed by them as well. I'll bet the parents are being interviewed by them now and trying to determine why he had not been going to school and what a 13 year old kid was doing wandering the streets at 3am.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

they do have a very large family services group here that is empowered to protect children and, children under the age of 16 must attend school. If they don't attend school it becomes a matter for family services, which is why I say the teacher should have notified them.

It isnt so easy and the hoops that the schools and parents have to go through to get assistance are formidable. "Must" attend school?

Another thing, and while this is a small nuance, it's HUGE, children have NO responsibility to go to school here. The parents have a responsibility to send their children to school. It IS the parents responsibility. that nuance helped me with my prefectural BOE when they came calling to try to force my wife and I to send our children to the local elementary and JHS.

People often misunderstand the law regarding "gimu kyoiku".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In my experiences what Yubaru says is pretty much how it goes, and when social services do get involved, they do not have powers to enter a property against the will of the parents. Anyway, this family did not need social services, she was doing perfectly well providing for her son. It is the bully's families who were in need of their children receiving special guidance, the bully's families making monsters. This boy was not trouble, he clearly was victimized by some of his peers. At 3am, the mother was likely sleeping and the boy snuck out. That again, was absolutely not her fault. I snuck out at 13, while my parents were in bed, lots of kids do it.

No one is to blame apart from the murderer/s.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

A lot of countries have laws revised especially in a case that garners heavy media attention. It would be great if these "older" students were made an example of and tried as adults if they are indeed under 20 years of age. As it stands right now, even a brutal and vicious crime like this will only give them a short time plus protection after "rehabilitation".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So there are three 13-year old kids out there who planned and executed a killing...because their victim wouldn't steal for him. Frightening.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kawasaki boy told friend on Line he might get killed

Execute the boys that committed this crime!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sorry Yubaru, you are wrong! Kids must attend school until 15 and nine months old. If they do not the parents must provide reasoning for it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sorry Yubaru, you are wrong! Kids must attend school until 15 and nine months old. If they do not the parents must provide reasoning for it.

And I am sorry to have to say this, but "parents providing reasoning" ends up being a convenient loophole for both parents and schools, as with so many other things here. Very easy to evade.

In my experience as a private school teacher in Japan, I can tell you that it's very easy for kids to drop out of school. One of my kids refused to go school for eight months from the age of 8. Two of my boys went full hikikomori in the first grade of junior high school. I have heard literally dozens of stories of kids who simply dropped out of the formal school system and never went back, and yet were never recorded as such ... and that's just the public schools. Many schools will do anything to avoid adding to the drop-out rolls, including keeping chronically truant students registered until graduation day.

It is incredibly easy to evade the school system in Japan, as long as you are registered in it in the first place. And when was the last time that you ever heard of parents being prosecuted for not ensuring that their kids were in school?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese leave their children unattended and children roam around after school , some seen not to hav attended school walking around with friends ! Parents allow there children to rain around in the Night Sitting in restaurants or parks , children need Guidence It is not safe to Leave children walking home in the Nights alone Or some after school activities where children hav to come home late - please remember they are children ,

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thanks JT for following this story. I hope the boy finally finds some peace where ever he is now and I hope whoever is responsible is punished so that they regret it for the rest of their lives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To address but one of your comments, Disillusioned: while it is true that compulsory education requires that students attend school through the end of junior high, 不登校生徒, or those who don't attend school, are nevertheless permitted to graduate. There are no truancy officers rounding up such students or issuing citations to their parents.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sad. It sounds like he got involved with the wrong crowd and did not find a way out. It is difficult for 13 year olds to go to parents or other adults with their problems. I have been there; I was both bullied and being a bully at different ages. It is easy to critise the parents and others from the outside, but we are not in their shoes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

does the 3rd largest economy have a help line for such children? do they have fund for such children? i hope the tragic story of this poor kid will bring the attention of the politicians towards other such children.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Poor kid. He was obviously making a cry for help with his message. So sad.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

These murderers need to be punished severely. I would hope at least 15 years of hard prison time, regardless of how sorry they say they are. They knew what they were doing even at their "minor" age.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Won't take long to find them with the online clues and camera footage they have. How to destroy three families in one easy, but stupid, step.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sorry Yubaru, you are wrong! Kids must attend school until 15 and nine months old. If they do not the parents must provide reasoning for it.

You are misunderstanding the law just like everyone else, look up the gimukyoiku law. The PARENTS are the key.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

JoeBigs: execute minors? No, but charge them as adults in an adult court.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

People confuse the law regarding compulsory education here thinking that children are required to go to school until a certain age, but as I noted in an earlier post it is the parents that are required to send their children to school.

The distinction is big. This became a rather large issue for many parents of mixed-heritage children back when the Amer-Asian School in Okinawa was built. Parents started sending their children there but were getting into problems with the Pref & local BOEs because they were not sending their children to MEXT approved schools. (I am making a very long story short here)

Since that time, more and more parents are sending their children to "free" schools, and more are putting their children into Christian Schools or otherwise known as "American" schools and keeping their children out of the Japanese public system. Many parents are unaware that they have options, yes of course cost is a big one, but that is a different story.

The point is these children are going to school but not MEXT approved one's and yet they have no problems now with their BOEs because they ARE abiding by the compulsory education law by sending their children to school.

Again it's a long story short thing here, the government has made a promise to parents, not the children, to provide education to them, and the parents by law are required to follow those laws.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why haven't the police arrested anyone yet?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I had a student before who was a public school teacher in Kawasaki. He said it is a pretty rough area. He said he had to even visit the home of one student who's father was mafia connected. Such a tragic story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think Ryota Uemura is a good example of how Japanese students live: neglected, alone, and wanting acceptance. It's sad.

There are many factors in this boy's murder (even some I didn't list), but I think it comes down to three main things: society's values, the parents' values, and Ryota's values.

We know what society's value is: work. If you don't come to work early and stay late, you're a poor worker, and consequently, worthless. This value is taught to all Japanese at every age. It's a bunch of bull. A person's worth isn't based on his/her work.

The parents' values? Definitely not with their son. They failed as parents. Obviously, they couldn't control every aspect of their son's life, and that's not where they take the blame. At some point in parenting, parents have to give their children freedom and let them make the right choices. But every indicator shows that Ryota's parents never took an interest in Ryota's life. They never made sure their son was in school instead of wherever he was. They also weren't home, as they never picked up the phone (and if they were that makes it worse). Let's say that they tried everything with their son beforehand? They still failed. Why? Because they gave up. They gave up on their son.

What about Ryota's values? Acceptance and companionship. Ryota never found them. He transferred schools because of bullying. He found a group who he thought were initially accepting, but only wanted to use him. It's unfortunate, sad, and almost depressing. He was trying to survive in a world that taught him the wrong things, neglected him, used him, and ultimately murdered him.

This also brings up bullying, another subject prevalent in Japanese schools, but I don't have it in me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

On TV they are showing messages he sent from his cellphone. He wanted to go to school, but his new "friends" did not let him. And his parents didn´t care about that, or about the black eyes and cuts in his face he came home with. So sad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DeDe Miura

I had a student before who was a public school teacher in Kawasaki. He said it is a pretty rough area. He said he had to even visit the home of one student who's father was mafia connected. Such a tragic story.

Kawasaki has a large "chimpira" population. I looked at an apartment there near the station but it was quite scary. I'd think twice about bringing up a kid there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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No, reason he moved to Kawasaki and transferred to the new school was because his parents divorced and mom returned to her parents' place, so she could work while the kids were taken care of by her parents (it is obvious that the kids were not properly taken care of by the grandparents and it is just sad).

The reason why his mom wasn't home at nights was because she works night shifts (more money) at a hospital, she's a nurse. She is supporting her family by herself. Although there is no excuse for her not to notice her son's SOS signs, I understand how hard it is for a woman to support 5 children (she has 5 kids) and grandparents.

What's so ironic is that the boy tried to hide that he was in trouble from his mother because he told his friend that he didn’t want his mother to worry about him. Mother worked to support kids, her son tried to protect his mother from extra burden on her shoulder.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Super depressing.I can't believe there are no arrests yet. I wonder that if this story gets to the foreign news would that put more pressure on the justice system to act decisively? I assume real Yakuza think that brutalizing a naked 13 year old and leaving him to bleed to death crosses the line. Hope so...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder that if this story gets to the foreign news would that put more pressure on the justice system to act decisively?

It's only been a few days. Better that they take their time and arrest the actual culprit, than be pushed into rushing and just arrest someone they can pin it on (which happens often enough in Japan).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is sad on so many levels. It speaks to broken families, it speaks to bullying, it speaks to a system that allowed a 13 yo child to not come to school for a month without a social services visit. This story is beyond sad as there were so many chances to save his life. :(

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have no idea what Kawasaki is all about. But this is surely a sad story. Those 3 culprit should rot in jail forever !!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yubaru, LaWren and Fishy have written a lot of sense here. Along with the lack of child protection/wellbeing services there is also a lack of mental wellbeing related services which often compounds the problem. Fern Gully touched on the value system that contrubuted to this outcome, however no-one has yet begun to explore why there is such a prevalence of gangs in Japan, and how very quickly truants find themselves recruited into the gangs and brothels. These are not experiences from which young people walk away unscarred. Tragically, as in this case, some do not emerge from these experiences alive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TV says they found the thugs. Now wait for the usual result: slap on the wrist, because they are "youth".

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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