July 26th, 2016
The worst mass killing in Japan since World War Two claimed 19 lives at a medical facility for people with mental illness and disabilities in Sagamihara, a city near Tokyo, last night. Satoshi Uematsu, a former employee with a history of psychiatric problems, returned to the facility with a bag full of knives. He restrained staff and slit the throats of patients as they slept.
While hindsight is 20/20, there had been multiple warning signs leading up to this horrifying massacre. Uematsu had expressed paranoid ideas about AIDS infecting Japan on social media and had even delivered a letter to the home of the speaker of Japan’s lower house of parliament, threatening to slaughter disabled people for the good of the country: “My aim is a world where people with multiple disabilities who have extreme difficulty living at home or being active in society can be euthanized with the consent of their guardians.”
According to Japanese media reports, the Tokyo police immediately notified police in Sagamihara about the letter. The director of the center, Katsuhiko Yoneyama, spoke with Uematsu after being informed of the letter, telling him, “You are not an appropriate person to work here.” Uematsu resigned.
He was subsequently committed to a psychiatric facility where he tested positive for marijuana in a urine test. Although doctors at the institution diagnosed Mr. Uematsu with marijuana-induced psychosis and a separate disorder, he was soon deemed to be harmless and released. Diagnoses of marijuana-induced psychosis are highly controversial; the evidence around it seems contradictory and scientific opinion is divided.
Locals have also told media that Uematsu said he was planning on killing as many as 600 disabled people. After killing the patients and driving himself to a local police station to turn himself in, Uematsu also reportedly told police, “I held some grudges after being forced to resign.”