December 27th, 2012
(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)
On this day in 2001, 66-year-old Kojiro Asakura was executed by hanging at the Tokyo Detention House for the murders of almost an entire family eighteen years before.
In June 1983, he had killed Akira Shirai, age 45, and Shirai’s wife, one-year-old son and two daughters aged six and nine by beating them to death with a hammer and an ax. He then dismembered three of the bodies.
The only survivor was the family’s oldest daughter, age ten, who was away at summer camp at the time of the murders.
The motive for Asakura’s crimes lay in frustrations related to his job. A property assessor, he had bid successfully on the Shirai family’s house and land in Tokyo when they came up for public auction. He planned to resell the property at a profit, but the deal stalled when the Shirais refused to move out. Four months after the auction, they were still residing in the house illegally.
Enraged, Asakura beat the wife and children to death, then waited for the husband to come home and killed him too.
At his trial, the defense argued insanity or at least diminished capacity, pointing out that normal, sane people do not go on gruesome murder sprees. The court didn’t buy it.
Asakura was hanged on the same day as another Japanese multiple murderer, Toshihiko Hasegawa, who breathed his last at the Nagoya Detention House. These were the first executions in Japan in eleven months, and thirteen months more would pass before anyone else stepped up to the scaffold.
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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Businessmen,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,Japan,Murder,Other Voices,Pelf
Tags: 2000s, 2001, december 27, kojiro asakura, real estate, tokyo, toshihiko hasegawa
March 28th, 2011
On this date in 1872, geisha Yoarashi (“Night Storm”) Okinu was beheaded at Tokyo’s Kozukappara execution grounds after killing her lover to run away with a kabuki actor.
A notorious dokufu, so-called “poison-women” that captivated that country in the late 19th century, Night Storm (English Wikipedia entry | Japanese) was of humble origins but became a sought-after geisha in Edo.
Her celebrity affairs are treated here (reliability: unknown), but the reason she’s in this here blog is poisoning off the second-last of them with arsenic in order to get free to run off with kabuki actor Arashi Rikaku.
Rikaku himself was up to his eyeballs in this same plot, and was arrested — our source says, during a kabuki performance! — and initially condemned to death. Since Okinu was pregnant, however, her execution was put off pending childbirth; eventually, Rikaku’s sentence was moderated from capital punishment altogether.
Okinu’s head was cut off, and displayed in public for several days. Her lover served three years in prison, then rebuilt his kabuki career as Ichikawa Gonjuro.
* The date was the “20th day of the 2nd month of the fifth year of Meiji”, using Japan’s system of dating years from the start of the current emperor’s reign. Helpful in nailing down the date: Tokyo’s first daily newspaper published its first issue on the very next day.
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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Entertainers,Execution,Gibbeted,History,Japan,Murder,Notably Survived By,Scandal,Sex,Women
Tags: 1872 1870s, arashi rikaku, arsenic, geisha, kabuki, kozukappara, march 28, meiji restoration, poison, poisoner, theater, tokyo, yoarashi okinu