Sasebo-Slashing: The Murder Of An 11-Year-Old Girl By Her Classmate
An 11-year-old Japanese girl who was accused of killing her friend Satomi Mitarai is known by the nickname “Nevada-tan.” The murder of Mitarai entailed the use of a box cutter to sever her limbs and throat on June 1, 2004, at a primary school in Sasebo, Japan. It has earned the moniker “Sasebo Slashing.” Since then, the unidentified killer has evolved into a cartoon figure on the Web.
The cartoon first appeared online shortly after photographs of the alleged murderer were released, displaying her donning a pullover hooded sweatshirt with the phrase “NEVADA” spelled across the chest (the “-tan” suffix is a variation on “-chan,” a child’s honorific, and the t-shirt is frequently worn by supporters of the University of Nevada and its sports teams).
She is formally addressed as “Girl A” in Japanese legal papers since her true identity has not been made public and because Japanese judicial processes forbid the identification of young criminals. On June 18, 2004, however, a member of the Japanese online community 2channel revealed her true name publicly based on an analysis of a photograph that had been aired on Japanese media; the presenter, Fuji Television, may have unintentionally done the same.
The “Sasebo slashing” (number 6) refers to the 11-year-old female colleague who killed 12-year-old Japanese student Satomi Mitarai. On June 1, 2004, Mitarai was murdered at a primary school in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. Mitarai’s arms and throat were slashed with a knife during the crime.
Because Japanese legal processes forbid the identity of minor criminals, the killer’s true name has not been disclosed to the press, and Japanese police have described her as “Girl A.” The Nagasaki District Legal Affairs Bureau forbade users on the internet from sharing her images.
On Japanese online forums like 2channel, the murderer became the focus of a cliché. Because she was shown in a class photo wearing a sweatshirt from the University of Nevada, Reno, people began to call her “Nevada-tan.”
At Okubo Elementary School in Sasebo, the 11-year-old student killed Satomi Mitarai, her 12-year-old classmate, during lunchtime on June 1, 2004, when the classroom was somewhat unoccupied. She went to her class wearing clothing stained with blood after leaving Mitarai’s body at the crime site. The corpse was discovered, and the cops were summoned by the girls’ tutor, who had realized that both had gone missing.
She reportedly confessed to the crime and said to police, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” after being brought into the jail. She did not eat anything and spent the entire night at the police headquarters sobbing often. She was given food, but she declined to accept them. She eventually consumed bread and juice. She did not, however, originally give any explanation. Soon after, she informed police that she and Mitarai had fought over internet communications. She said that Mitarai defamed her by making remarks about her being overweight and referring to her as a “goody-goody.”
Despite her young age, a Japanese Family Court ruled to institutionalize her on September 15, 2004, due to the gravity of the incident. She was transferred to the Tochigi prefecture’s reform school. She was first given a two-year involuntarily commitment term by the Nagasaki Family Court in 2004, but in September 2006, it was extended to four years. Local officials declared on May 29, 2008, that they would not be seeking an extension of her sentence.
Analysis of “Girl A”
While media sources claim that Mitarai’s critical remarks about “Girl A”‘s website—specifically, “that she was “big,” or overweight—might have been the main impetus for the murder—an investigation has revealed further information. According to a police psychologist, “Girl A” had a record of violent events, including punching and kicking peers as well as a knife problem a month before the murder. She was also not mentally sick, the doctor said.
There is significant public conjecture that “Girl A” may have the hikikomori syndrome, and she does exhibit some of its hallmark characteristics, but no medical examiners have made such a diagnosis as of yet. Despite still participating in athletics, notably basketball, up until just before the event, “Girl A” was exhibiting indications of social withdrawal, including abandoning clubs.
It seems that some of the more graphic elements of Internet culture had a big effect on “Girl A.” According to case analysis, she “was a young woman who was obsessed with Guro, online subculture, and urban legend. Even the most seasoned online warriors would be shaken by the strange ASCII movies and shock flash flicks she had connected from her website.” Her website displayed her obsessions, which included bizarre “recipes” and fanfiction about her favorite movie, Battle Royale. She modeled the layout of the website on the scary flash movie “Red Room,” which had a particularly powerful effect.
Aftermath of the “Girl A” incident
The murder gave rise to an ongoing discussion in Japan over whether the age of criminal responsibility, which was changed from 16 to 14 in 2000 in response to the Kobe killings of the Sakakibara family in 1997, ought to be changed once more. It also highlighted concerns about how younger children are exposed to the Internet and how the hikikomori subculture and the Internet affect young people in Japan.
For remarks made in the wake of the murder, such as the then-Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki’s assertion that the neck-cutting was a “manly” act, members of the Japanese Diet faced harsh condemnation.
According to a Battle Royale fan website, Battleroyalefilm.net, “current events” forced the sequel’s producers to delay the DVD’s original June 9, 2004, date of launch to later that year.
At the Okubo Elementary School graduating ceremony on March 18, 2005, graduates were handed graduation albums with blank pages in case they wanted to fill them with photos of Mitarai and “Girl A” or group photos that included both. Photos would be made accessible upon demand, the school declared. There was also conjecture that “Girl A’s” Internet celebrity as Nevada was the reason the pictures were taken safely to the school and then deleted once copies were made.
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