On April 26, Issei Sagawa turned 70 years of age. To mark the occasion of his seventh decade, a movie about his exploits, titled "The True Story of the Paris Cannibal, 38 Years on" is scheduled for release in Japan on July 12.
The film is the work of a joint French-U.S. team.
In June 1981, while studying literature at the Sorbonne Academy in Paris, Issei Sagawa was arrested by French police. He was charged with the murder of Renee Hartevelt, a 25-year-old Dutch student he had hired to give him language lessons.
Sagawa had shot her once, point blank from behind, with a .22 rifle. Questioned over the condition of his victim's corpse, Sagawa confessed to having eaten parts of her body, some raw and some that he cooked with seasoning added in a frying pan.
The shocking news reverberated for many years afterward.
Sagawa's well-to-do family spent a fortune on his attorney's fees. His French lawyer mounted a competent defense that enabled him to avoid criminal prosecution, and in 1984 he was released from a mental asylum and deported to Japan, whose legal system could find no grounds for prosecuting him. Nor could it compel him to voluntarily undergo hospitalization. He emerged a free man.
Suffering from a weak constitution from childhood, he was unable to hold down normal employment. Eventually he became the nation's "celebrity cannibal," appearing on late-night television shows, writing a monthly column for subculture magazine Bubka, publishing a novel and illustrated autobiography and even appearing in pornographic films.
In November 2013, Sagawa suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Shukan Shincho (May 30) recently learned he was hospitalized and confined to bed.
"I go to visit every other day," his younger brother Jun, age 68, told the reporter. "To make matters worse he underwent a gastrostomy."
In other words, Sagawa is no longer able to eat. One might see something ironic here, the writer remarks, tongue-in-cheek.
His brother continues, "The movie was shot four years ago. I was taking care of him at the apartment where he lived, and we arranged for filming there. But his condition deteriorated further, and a year ago he could no longer swallow.
"If he tried to eat a bento (boxed meal), the food would get lodged in his throat, risking aspiration pneumonia," said Jun. "So at that point he was hospitalized and had to be fed via the stomach. He gets transferred around to various hospitals in Kanagawa. Our sole source of income is from the national pension system, so life is pretty grim."
In addition to the crippling stroke, which paralyzed the left side of his body, he suffers from retinopathy brought on by chronic diabetes. Although physically debilitated, Jun says his elder brother is nevertheless mentally alert and enjoys watching DVD recordings of daily sumo broadcasts and TV dramas, such as the long running TV Asahi series "Aibo" (Tokyo Detective Duo), which he views on a laptop computer.
"He gets glued to the screen," the brother relates. "And oh yes, he still likes female entertainers. Before he was a big fan of Ryoko Kuninaka , Aya Ueto and Miori Takimoto. Now he seems to favor Erika Toda and Satomi Ishihara. Before he was hospitalized, he had a coffee table book of Toda's photos."
Even now, does Sagawa still feel the urge to "eat" a woman?" The somewhat tasteless question was relayed to Sagawa via his brother, who told the reporter he'd replied, "I do."© Japan Today