Unfortunately, child abduction is nothing rare in many societies. Especially three decades ago, before the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle and Internet, a story involving a missing child would only rarely make it to the evening news. However, the story of Junko Furuta is quite different.
The 15-year old senior was walking home from Yashio-Minami High School on the afternoon of November 22, 1988 when she was approached by 7 boys roughly her age. The ringleader of this clan was thought to be Hiroshi Yokoyama (referred to as “Boy A” in the court documents). Yokoyama led a troubled life and even at the age of 17 he had already served time in a juvenile detention center. Fresh out of jail and allegedly having ties to the Yakuza, Yokoyama had more than just a chip on his shoulder. Some accounts have stated that the boys may have coerced Junko to come with them, leading her to believe that she was in danger and that they would help her. Other accounts relay that the boys surrounded her and forced her to come back to a house where two of the boy’s family lived in Ayase, Adachi, in north-central Tokyo. What is certain is that there she endured 44 days of horror.
One of the first things they did was to make her call her parents and say that she was safe and staying with a friend. This would prolong the time they had to carry on their game of torture and abuse. Then the beatings and rape began. They forced her to masturbate while the boys watched. At least four of the boys took turns raping her, and she was raped repeatedly, day after day. This went on for weeks.
The boys didn’t know Junko. They had no grudge against her. They did it simply because they wanted to and because they could. To them, this poor girl was nothing more than a toy for their sadistic psychopathy.
The atrocities they committed to this poor girl are difficult to image. They starved her – forcing her to eat cockroaches and drink her own urine. They poured hot wax on her face. The dropped heavy weights on her stomach and burned her with cigarettes. They stabbed her chest with sewing needles and stuck lit firecrackers inside her mouth, ears and anus to watch them explode. They burned her eyelids and face with a cigarette lighter. They shoved scalding light bulbs in her vagina and tore off one of her nipples with a pair of pliers.
The objects they inserted into her caused heavy bleeding and made it difficult for her to urinate properly. Her injuries were so severe that it took her over half an hour to crawl downstairs to use the lavatory to urinate. Her eardrums were also severely injured, probably due to fireworks going off in close proximity.
Once the boys decided that they had enough fun for the day, the battered and bruised Junko was forced to sleep on an outdoor balcony, in little to no clothing during the harsh Tokyo winter. Shivering and suffering from severe internal and external injuries, it’s incredible that her body could even withstand the extreme circumstances it was subjected to.
Amazingly, one of the boy’s parents was actually living in the house which this was all happening. Under duress of the potential consequences had she confessed. Junko had pleaded with the boy’s parents for help. Even once the parents knew about what was happening they didn’t intervene. Later, during the trial, they would claim that they were scared of the 17-year-olds and fear is the reason they did nothing to help her. It’s been said that many people knew that the girl was being held captive at the family’s home, but they too were too frightened to help her.
Despite being extremely weak due to starvation and possibly suffering from broken bones and internal bleeding, Junko Furata made a heroic attempt to escape and almost reached a telephone. However one of the boys caught her before she could call for help. Junko would pay for this escape attempt dearly.
The boys hung Junko up like a punching bag and took turns beating her until blood was coming out of her mouth. Her organs were so badly damaged at this point that trying to drink water made her immediately vomit. They held her face against a concrete floor and jumped on her, causing her to lose the ability to breathe through her nose. Finally, they poured a flammable liquid on her arms and legs and set Junko on fire as punishment for trying to escape. They also inserted a bottle up her anus causing internal injuries.
Amazingly, Junko survived. But just a few days later they upped their game and used bamboo sticks and golf clubs to beat her. They used the weights to completely crush her hands after they tore off her fingernails. Skewers of grilled chicken, as well as cigarettes and firecrackers were inserted into her vagina and anus, causing her to bleed profusely. At this point Junko was begging them to just kill her.
By New Years Day Junko was severely injured and incapable of moving. Her body was badly mutilated, bones were broken, and there was the potential of internal organ damage due to the repeated rapes, beatings, and other depraved acts carried out by the boys. In less than a week she would finally be free.
On January 5, 1989 one of the boys got angry after losing a game of mah-jongg and decided to take his aggression out on his human punching bag. He attacked Junko with a barbell, beating her torso until she bled from her mouth again. She went into convulsions, but the boys thought she was faking and lit her on fire.
Junko Furuta died a few hours later. Her death was, undoubtedly, among the most painful individual deaths caused by human beings in the history of mankind.
To dispose of the body, the boys stuffed her in a 55-gallon drum and filled it with concrete. They left the drum at an empty factory lot in Koto, Tokyo, where it wouldn’t be found until over a year later. Because the perpetrators of this horrific crime were under 18 at the time, very little is known about the events leading up to the discovery of Junko’s body and how the boys were implicated in the crime. Most of the records pertaining to the case have been sealed.
When Junko’s mother was notified about how her daughter Junko spent her final days, she fainted and needed to be admitted for psychiatric treatment.
Junko Furata’s body was identified, the arrest of three boys aged between 17-18 years old was made. A fourth boy was later indicted but three other boys that had participated escaped true justice. They would be tried as adults, however their identities were concealed due to their age. Two of the remaining boys were sent to reform school and another was released on probation. The magazine Shūkan Bunshun, who was outraged by the incident, reported the boys’ real names stating, “human rights aren’t needed for brutes.”:
Hiroshi Miyano (宮野裕史) – Later changed to Hiroshi Yokoyama (横山裕史)
Jō Ogura (小倉譲) – Later changed to Jō Kamisaku (神作譲)
Shinji Minato (湊伸治) – May be going by Nobuharu Minato
Yasushi Watanabe (渡邊恭史)
In addition, two other boys: Kōichi Ihara (伊原孝一) and Tetsuo Nakamura (中村哲夫), whose semen and pubic hairs were found on Junko’s body were also named, but were never convicted in connection to the crime.
Due to the overwhelming evidence against them, the four boys pleaded guilty.
The Tokyo Public Prosecutor’s Office sought a life sentence for the leader of the gang, since he had a known association with professional criminals and a long record of delinquency. But his attorney did a great job, presenting him as a remorseful young man trying to overcome a destabilizing childhood brain injury. In July, 1990, a lower court sentenced him to 17 years in prison. In July 1991, a higher court would later revise the sentence to 20 years.
The rest of the gang of thugs got off with just a slap on the wrist. One accomplice was sentenced to a four-to-six-year term, another got a three-to-four-year term, and a third got an indefinite five-to-ten-year term. The leader and the first two of the three appealed their rulings, and the higher court gave more severe sentences to the three appealing parties. Of the two appealing accomplices, the one that originally got four-to-six year term, received a five-to-nine-year term. The other accomplice had his sentence upgraded to a five-to-seven-year term.
Five to seven years for 44 days of torture. The public was outraged by the short sentences, and the story made national headlines.
A civil suit came later by the parents of Junko Furuta against the boys and their parents who could have prevented this horrible nightmare from happening, but instead did nothing. The attorney assigned to represent Junko’s parents in the civil suit refused to take on the job, citing that there was no case, since the semen and pubic hair found on her body did not belong to any of the boys convicted of her torture and murder. In spite of this, they pursued the case anyway and they won. Their prize – the home where Junko had been savagely raped, tortured and killed. The family sold it and Junko’s family would receive 50,000 yen (roughly $600,000) in restitution for their daughter’s horrific death.
gained national notoriety across Japan. Many began to question the leniency of the judicial system and the matter of rehabilitation in regards to juvenile offenders, specifically offenders of extreme and particularly heinous crimes such as this. In the case of “Boy A”, Hiroshi Yokoyama, the system’s failure to rehabilitate him after his first conviction allowed him to integrate back into society without the slightest fear of returning to jail or remorse for his offenses prior to Junko’s murder.
Junko’s story inspired several books, a graphic novel, movies, and even a hit pop song written in her honor.
What is particularly odd about this story is the lack of credible sources to cite, in spite of the media frenzy that swirled around the case. Most of what is available online is rehashed Wikipedia entries and user submitted blog content. Since the boys were minors when the offenses were committed, by law prosecuting attorneys and others involved with the case cannot speak on anything involving Junko’s murder or the trial proceedings. Those intimately involved with the case were able to confirm that the details of the crime leading to Junko’s death were as horrible as described, but were unable to elaborate any more in regards to the case.
Today all four boys are free. Changing their names after their release, it would appear that the boys involved in this vile and tragic murder have managed to stay off the radar since completing their sentence, all except for one.
They Never Learn
The accomplice that chose not to appeal got away with the lightest sentence: just 8 years, in spite of being labeled as the “main accomplice” in Junko’s torture and murder. He had been 17 when the crimes were committed and was out of prison before his 30th birthday. On release, he changed his name to Jo Kamisaku and got a job at a tech company, quietly assimilating back into society.
But within 5 years he had already slipped back into Tokyo’s criminal underworld, and was in trouble with the law. He was arrested for assaulting a 27-year-old acquaintance, Takatoshi Isono, after suspecting that a woman he was interested in was involved with him. Kamisaku went as far as to track the man down, threaten and beat him, then force him into the trunk of his car and drive him from Adachi to his mother’s bar in Misato where he continued beating him. The beating lasted four hours. Kamisaku even threatened to kill the man, telling him that he’d killed before and knew how to get away with it.
Like Yokoyama, Kamisaku failed to be rehabilitated during his stay in jail. It’s been reported that his behavior there was abysmal, and it is clear that he showed absolutely no remorse for his prior offenses.
During the trial Kamisaku denied threatening the man or having said he had killed before, but he was convicted and sentenced to another 7 years in prison. Since then, Kamisaku has been released again. His whereabouts are not known.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE CRIME
Nov 22, 1988
Kept captive in house, and posed as one of boy’s girlfriend
Raped (over 400 times in total)
Forced to call her parents and tell them she had run away
Starved and malnutritioned
Fed cockroaches to eat and urine to drink
Forced to masturbate
Forced to strip in front of others
Burned with cigarette lighters
Foreign objects inserted into her vagina/anus
DAY 11: Dec1, 1988
Severely beat up countless times
Face held against concrete ground and jumped on
Hands tied to ceiling and body used as a punching bag
Nose filled with so much blood that she can only breath through her mouth
Dumbbells dropped onto her stomach
Vomited when tried to drink water (her stomach couldn’t accept it)
Tried to escape and punished by cigarette burning on arms
Flammable liquid poured on her feet and legs, then lit on fire
Bottle inserted into her anus, causing injury
DAY 20: Dec 10, 1989
Unable to walk properly due to severe leg burns
Beat with bamboo sticks
Fireworks inserted into anus and lit
Hands smashed by weights and fingernails cracked
Beaten with golf club
Cigarettes inserted into vagina
Beaten with iron rods repeatedly
Winter; forced outside to sleep in balcony
Skewers of grilled chicken inserted into her vagina and anus, causing bleeding
DAY 30: Dec 20, 1989
Hot wax dripped onto face
Eyelids burned by cigarette lighter
Stabbed with sewing needles in chest area
Left nipple cut and destroyed with pliers
Hot light bulb inserted into her vagina
Heavy bleeding from vagina due to scissors insertion
Unable to urinate properly
Injuries were so severe that it took over an hour for her to crawl downstairs and use the bathroom
Eardrums severely damaged
Extreme reduced brain size
DAY 40: Dec 30, 1989
Begged her torturers to “kill her and get it over with”
DAY 42: January 1, 1989
Junko greets the New Years Day alone
Unable to move from the ground
DAY 44: January 4, 1989
Mutilated with an iron barbell
Burned her face and eyes with a candle.
Lighter fluid was poured onto her legs, arms, face and stomach, and then lit on fire for two hours.