Japan Today



Father of Akihabara killer quits work; mother hospitalized


“Allow me to take this opportunity to express my apologies. To those who have lost their lives and have been injured, I am terribly sorry.”

How the parents of the defendant felt about these words, spoken at the first court hearing on Jan 28, is unknown. Tomohiro Kato, 27, arrested for the Akihabara stabbing rampage, admitted all charges and expressed remorse.

A year and eight months since the incident, much has changed at his home in Aomori. Lights are seen inside the house, but no one responds to the knock on the door. According to a neighbor, “The father lives here alone now. He bows if he sees anyone, but doesn’t talk. For a while after the incident, people thought that Mr Kato had committed suicide whenever news of a fatal railway accident was reported in Aomori city.”

The father submitted his resignation to the financial organization where he had worked for 30 years shortly after the incident. One former coworker says that he keeps in touch, once in a while, only with those he’s known longest. “He never was socially outgoing and seldom leaves home now.”

The windows and curtains of their home have remained shut. “The mother was admitted to a local hospital due to mental stress. Her health has failed and she is wheelchair bound now. The younger son doesn’t come home at all,” says a local reporter.

On the day before the first hearing, the only statement the father made in a television interview was, “There is much that I can't understand. I hope my son explains what drove him to do this when he is in court.”

Secluded in his house, severing all ties with the outside world -- it may be the only atonement available to this father.

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To me it seems like a normal japanese family life. Father approaching retirement age, mother is sick and hopspitalized and son is away due privacy reason.

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@some14some - that's a pretty callous posting about these innocent people.

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Sad how the actions of a family member can effect one's life. The parents must be feeling so helpless. What kind of closure can they get?

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gplee111 wrote- that's a pretty callous posting about these innocent people.

Innocent? Its hard to tell if they are at fault for raising a monster or if they did nothing wrong. I can't tell either way, but anyone making a hard and fast decision either way is committing a serious logical error.

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"Its hard to tell if they are at fault for raising a monster or if they did nothing wrong."

Outside of the truly, truly extraordinary pr some plotline from a crime novel, I don't think there's any way a family could do enough to a child during its upbringing to contribute directly to a slaughter of the magnitude of the Akihabara killings.

These people didn't make their son kill people. Their son chose to kill those people.

And as would be expected for anyone in their situation, they're having a hell of a time wrestling with something inconceivable to most people.

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Parenting is a serious responsibility. To me, it looks like this father worked hard and provided all the financial support needed. Guiding their children to the point where they are able to support themselves on their own is also important. I am not sure if someone can become a killer over night. Sad to hear how the family is suffering from the consequences of one member's evil deed. And the families of the other victims are suffering too.

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LFRAgain wrote- Their son chose to kill those people.

Maybe thanks to a lack of guidance. An example would be always taking his side when he is violent to other children with the "My boy can do no wrong" excuse. There are many ways a parent can reinforce selfish and violent behaviours. Another thing they can do is see that their child is potentially homicidal, but sweep it under the rug.

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First of all, we have no information about the parents or how they raised their son so I think it is unfair to judge and blame them.

Second, no parent is going to see that their child is potentially homicidal. Even if they are at some level aware that their child is somehow abnormal, parents just don't ever imagine that their little angel could commit murder.

Families of violent criminals and murderers (and even the families of victims of violent crimes and murders) can experience extreme shame in Japan. An adult should be held fully accountable for his/her actions. The akihabara killer cannot blame his parents for his heinous crime and nor should we. Even kids who are severely abused by a parent can turn into responsible, kind, good people.

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As Dolphin girl accurately points out, it is commonplace for children of violent or socially maladjusted homes to grow up to eschew that very same violence in pursuit of a better way to raise their own children.

Certainly there are things that a parent can do to influence their child's ultimate outlook on life, but human socialization doesn't happen exclusively in the home. Society plays a very large role in how people view and interact with their environement.

It could be argued that socialization of children in modern Japan relies even more on non-parental societal pressures than in the West, with much of the moral upbringing of children left largely to the public schools system.

It's much easier to simply lay blame at the feet of the parents because it's the most immediate and accessible target to help us cope with the shock we naturally feel with tragedies like the Akihabara killings. But the truth is there are an almost incalculable number of factors that go into molding who we are, from how we're treated by peers to what DNA is hardwired into us. It can't be pinned on the parents so easily for many reasons, two being the apparent lack of violent tendencies on the part of the younger brother or the parents themselves.

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It is horribly unfair to the parents that they would be expected to ostracize themselves because of the actions of their son. As an adult, their son was responsible for his own actions, not them. It is NOT the parent's fault, unless indeed the parents encouraged the action or abused him!

I don't believe this is usually the case. In most cases, parents care for their children and do the best job that they can. The fact that we would automatically punish parents of people who do bad things just because they are related is sad.

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It is common in Asia to believe all parents have a degree of responsibility for their progeny or progenies' actions. From that perspective, it is of course very sad (all round) but unsurprsing that there is fallout, at least psychologically, for the parents too.

There is cultural psychological research (Richard Nisbett and team, Uni of Michigan) on the extent to which crime is considered to be the result of the criminals actions and or the result of the individual's enviroment (including upbringing). For example, it was found that Chinese newspapers were far more likely to mention the environment (including upbringing) surrounding criminals' actions, whereas US newspapers were more likely designate the action a result of the individuals choices (in a vacuum as it were).

I think that the actions of individuals are not the result of a rational decision made in the light of day with no strings attached, but that the "rational decision" is partly an epiphenomenon after the event: the decision took place unconciously. The "rational decision" is partly the rationalisation afterwards, and the prime mover, the unconscious, is mire of influences, including those of our upbringing.

But then to say that sounds like I am abnegating responsibility. I don't think that I have the FULL responsibility to abnegate. One of the things that an individual can do is to realise that they (I) am partly a result of their upbringing, and reflect on the ways in which my upbringinging may be affecting their actions.

But then again, from an extreme "unconscious-believers'" point of view, the act of reflecting about ones upbringing is also a result of ones unconscious.

I think that there is a middle path. We can and should take responsibility for our actions. But we can and should realise that we are influenced, and by this realisation, we do not take less, but more responsibility for our actions, but still not 100%.

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It is wrong to judge his parents. We don't know anything about this his private life. Who knows if mother and father were the most caring ones? And psychopaths need not a reason to kill, to injure.

I really pity his parents. What really hurts me is that when I was in Japan, the older generation seemed kind, gentle, the way Japan is portraited abroad.

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"It is wrong to judge parents"

How can a 25 year old man be anything but partly the product of his upbringing? For 20 of those years he was his parents' ward.

I agree that the older generation appear kind and gentle.

Reading the criminals blog posts, it seems that he the criminal himself was appearance wise "kind and gentle" but then started stabbing people.

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to anyone who thinks that this poor dude contributed in any way to his sons lunacy, I suggest you ask yourselves why the millions of other folks in Japan with emotionally detached parents don't go on random killing sprees.

While it pales in comparison to all the other innocents whose lives this nutcase ruined, he surely ruined his fathers retirement.

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It's hard to think of any of the people involved, the people who were injured and died, the man who took the inexplicable path and killed them, his parents, his family, even the neighbours and fellow workers - without feeling desperately sad. The fact is - that 'mistakes' are made at every moment, and there's not one person in the universe, who can be sure that his/her next act - will not be at least a small part of the cause - of someone elses grief. Thats why dealing with, managing, guilt, shame and blame - has to be among the most significant of emotional lessons to be learned. Before that though - is the even more important lesson of personal responsibility - ie - that one is capable, (& single handedly, no matter what influences), of making or breaking lives. Ones own, as well as those of loved ones, and strangers. Parents do well if they can talk about that, so that their children appreciate and understand that they have that kind of personal power, and that they learn to have care, & respect, for themselves & for others, for their own sakes as much as anyone elses. To learn to care, to teach ones children to care, to love - is not easy. By example, is probably best - love your children, and they learn.

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Poor bloke, the father! Hope the hurry up and smoke this loss! An eye for an eye! REVENGE is JUSTICE! I dont want my hard-earned tax yen paying for this KILLER's daily upkeep! Lets flush him down the toilet!

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What a horrible world itd be if everyone believed that revenge is justice. I cant think of anything much less resembling justice - than revenge.

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@dearjohn....gplee111 wrote- that's a pretty callous posting about these innocent people. Innocent? Its hard to tell if they are at fault for raising a monster or if they did nothing wrong. I can't tell either way, but anyone making a hard and fast decision either way is committing a serious logical error.

WHAT? you will apply that logic to these people yet you wont apply it to the world around you? dude your really messed up. Your serious logical error was attacking the dead victims of 911 with your stupid claims of war mongering. Again the Taliban awaits your arrival.

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I feel very sorry for the parents. People have been quick to point out that the killer's parents were responsible for his upbringing, but slow to take a long hard look at Japanese society. Japanese society emphasises harmony, often at the expense of those who are different, such as those who suffer from mental problems. Take one look at your local health services and you'll see lots of psychiatrists ready to medicate the problem away, effectively sweeping it under the carpet and not really dealing with it, and almost no psychologist ready to actually address the problem.

Someone who is mentally healthy does not go out and kill people, it takes a lot of pressure building to get to that point, and a lot of people ignoring it.

Yes, the parents have accepted a portion of the responsibility, but everyone else who came into contact with the murdered should be asking themselves why they didn't do anything to help. I'd love to know if there is any history of mental problems, and what treatment he received (if any). I suspect that if the newspapers looked into the matter they might find that the murdered did approach the medical profession for help and the Japanese health system simply wasn't geared to dealing with this sort of case.

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I don't understand why media goes after parents of criminals over here. Maybe they want to blame somebody but to me it's noting but invasion of privacy.

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Love how dearjohn keeps proclaiming the family's guilt with words like "maybe" and "it's hard to tell". Obviously dearjohn might be a mass murderer and could even be a scumbag. See what I mean?

Captain Obvious here, but lots of criminals have brothers and sisters who do not commit crime. In fact, there's fairly little correlation there. But that doesn't stop Nazis and North Korea from believing otherwise. Welcome to their club.

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Its interesting to learn about the parents and the killer's upbringing but blaming the parents is not appropriate unless we have facts of abuse etc.

Obviously he is not mentally healthy. Its ashame there was nobody who noticed any significant signs - or maybe they did but we don't know.

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I hope the mother is in counciling where she is. The whole family needs to get counciling together.

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Counseling. In Japan? Forget it.

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