November 30th, 2013 Headsman
On this date in 2000, Japan hanged three fifty-something murderers.
While Takashi Miyawaki and Kunikatsu Oishi were rather garden-variety criminals who killed family members over private vendettas, Kiyotaka Katsuta had been impressively dignified by one of his judges as the “most maliciously evil criminal in Japanese history.”
The former firefighter was convicted of eight murders but twice or even thrice that number might lie upon his soul.
He got started in 1972, strangling and robbing a Kyoto bar hostess.
Having found a workable m.o., Katsuta murdered and stole from (police suspected rapes, too, but couldn’t prove it) another four women over the 1970s. Then he moved on to armed robbery of men, stealing a gun from a policeman and killing at least three (with others wounded) in his various stickups — deeply shocking in Japan where guns are hard to own and firearm crime vanishingly rare.
In the will scribbled out during the few minutes he had left after being informed of his imminent execution, Katsuta professed that he had “managed to lead myself to a spiritual state of resignation.”
One of his victims’ family expressed a different form of closure — that Katsuta’s hanging “has made us feel we at long last have become able to close a chapter in our anguish, although we still feel never able to forgive the perpetrator.”
Also on this date
- 1871: Gaston Cremieux, Marseilles Commune leader
- 1938: Corneliu Codreanu, Romanian fascist martyr
- 1539: Don Carlos Ometochtzin, Aztec heretic
- 1945: Heinz Eck, U-Boat commander
- Daily Double: Lesser War Criminals
- 1824: Henry Fauntleroy, choked on debt
- 1944: Lilo Gloeden, Erich Gloeden and Elisabeth Kuznitzky