On Friday, February 20, the body of Ryota Uemura, a first-year middle school student in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, was found along the Tamagawa river with multiple stab wounds. It is believed that he was first beaten by a group of high school students, tied up, then stabbed repeatedly in the face, arms, and neck until he died of hemorrhagic shock.
One of the three high school boys who have been arrested recently proclaimed himself and the rest of his “team” as the “Kawasaki State,” following the same naming pattern as the terrorist organization ISIS/IS “Islamic State.”
The group of high school boys has been known for quite a while in the area. They would threaten other students by telling them, “We’re above the law. We run by our own rules. We are Kawasaki State. If you go against us, we’ll cut off your head while you’re still alive!”
This wasn’t the first time they’d gotten to Uemura either. Here he is a month earlier after he’d been “bullied.”
むらなか まさかず (@wemarehoruha) February 23, 2015
And this is the area where his body was found on February 20 by the Tamagawa River:
せがわ てっぺい (@wopovotowop) February 23, 2015
A classmate of Uemura’s said that the Kawasaki State gang was “inspired by the terrorist group.” He also “saw them often at a bowling alley/arcade by the river, and they would threaten you if you made eye contact. Several people had their smartphones stolen by them and used to pay for things.”
The members of the Kawasaki State gang who were arrested would also try to recruit members by offering them positions made up on the spot, like “the special attack unit leader.” They would also refer to each other with non-Japanese nicknames, though it is unclear which country’s names they used. Some social media outlets also report that they were planning on recording the killing and uploading it online, just like the terrorist group they named themselves after is infamous for.
This story has racked up over a thousand comments since being posted on Japanese website 2channel earlier today. Most of them are not even close to appropriate to translate, but here’s a sampling of general sentiments:
“Wow. That is pathetic.”
“‘Kawasaki State?’ Please.”
“Are they trying to secede or something?”
“They should have at least picked a less stupid-sounding name.”
“The media should be blamed for letting them be influenced by ISIS.”
“Geez, I never knew Kawasaki was such a scary place.”
“Well as long as they get decapitated in the end, I’m good.”
The calls for the death penalty of course are hindered by the fact that the perpetrators in this case are all minors (under 20 years old in Japan). They will be tried in juvenile court, and they will not be subject to harsher adult punishments if found guilty.
No matter the outcome however, we hope that Uemura’s friends and family can somehow find the peace and justice they deserve, and that steps will be taken in Kawasaki to ensure that crimes of this nature don’t happen again.