Sagamihara stabbings

The Sagamihara stabbings were committed on 26 July 2016 in Midori Ward, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan. Nineteen people were killed and twenty-six others were injured, thirteen severely, at a care home for disabled people.[1] The suspect was a 26-year-old man, identified as Satoshi Uematsu (植松 聖, Uematsu Satoshi), a former employee of the care facility.[2] Uematsu surrendered at a nearby police station with a bag of knives and was subsequently arrested.[3][4] The attack was described as one of the worst crimes committed on Japanese soil in modern history.[2] Uematsu was sentenced to death on 16 March 2020 after the prosecution sought the maximum penalty for murder in his trial, and he is currently on death row awaiting execution.[5]

Sagamihara stabbings
LocationMidori Ward, Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates35°36′49″N 139°12′47″E / 35.61361°N 139.21306°E / 35.61361; 139.21306
Date26 July 2016 (2016-07-26)
02:30 – 03:00 (UTC+09:00)
TargetTsukui Yamayuri En care facility
Attack type
Mass stabbing, mass murder
Injured26 (13 severe)[1]
AssailantSatoshi Uematsu
MotiveDisability hate crime


Location of Tsukui Yamayuri En within Kanagawa Prefecture

Tsukui Lily Garden (津久井やまゆり園, Tsukui Yamayuri En) is a residential care center run by Kanagawa Kyodokai (社会福祉法人かながわ共同会, Shakai Fukushi Hōjin Kanagawa Kyōdōkai), a social welfare organization.[6] Established by the local government, the facility was built in a 30,890 square metres (7.63 acres) area of woodland on the bank of the Sagami River.[7][8] As of the end of April, the facility housed 149 residents between the ages of 19 and 75, all of whom had an intellectual disability but many with various physical disabilities as well. Some are capable of engaging in physical activities outdoors, while others are bedridden.[2][8][9][10] The facility is located in a remote location about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Sagamiko Station on the Chūō Main Line.[11]


At about 02:10, Satoshi Uematsu allegedly used a hammer to break into the care centre through a glass window on the first floor. He tied up a staff member, took their keys, and then went from room to room, stabbing the victims in their necks as they slept.[2][12] Police were called to the care center by staff members at around 02:30 local time, reporting a man with a knife breaking into the building. However, Uematsu left the premises before being apprehended; he was recorded leaving the facility at 02:50 in security camera footage.[13]

Armed police entered the building at around 03:00 where they discovered the crime scene.[3] Twenty-nine ambulances were sent to the facility.[14] The suspect turned himself in at the Tsukui Police Station two hours after the incident with a bag containing kitchen knives and other bloodstained sharp tools.[8] A knife was reportedly found in his car outside the police station.[12]

Uematsu killed ten women and nine men aged between 18 and 70[2] and injured 26 more, thirteen severely.[1][7][15][16]


Satoshi Uematsu (植松 聖, Uematsu Satoshi) (born 1989/1990), a 26-year-old (at the time of the incident) man, used to work at the care home Tsukui Yamayuri En.[3] His father was an elementary school art teacher, and Uematsu had trained and worked as an elementary school teacher as well. He had lived in his house with his parents, but they moved away at some point and he remained there alone.[17] He resigned from working at the facility in February 2016 after having been employed there for over three years.[18]

Neighbors expressed surprise that he had allegedly committed the murders; he was described as a friendly, outgoing and good man. However, some reported that his personality had undergone a change at some point during his employment at the facility.[19][20][21]

Letter and statementsEdit

In February 2016, Uematsu attempted to hand-deliver a letter to Tadamori Ōshima, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan, at Ōshima's home in Tokyo but was prevented from doing so by security. He returned the following day and this time left the letter with the security guards.[19] Uematsu's letter appealed for the legalization of ending the lives of those with multiple disabilities in cases where it was requested by their guardians, and asked for Ōshima's assistance in delivering his message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. In it, he wrote, "I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanised, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities."[22] He also wrote that the killings of the disabled would be "for the sake of Japan and world peace" as well as to benefit the global economy and prevent World War III.[3][23]

After signing his name, the letter proceeded to detail an offer to target two facilities housing the disabled (possibly a reference to the two residential buildings in which he later committed the crime), and went on to appeal for certain conditions in exchange for committing the act. In the first half of the message, Uematsu said he could kill 460 people; however, in the second half, the number he gave was 260. He added that staff would be tied up to keep them from interfering but that they would not be harmed, the act would be swift, and that afterwards he would turn himself in. At the end of the latter half of the letter, he signed his name again, this time with his address, telephone number, and the name of his employer.[23]

At some point, the letter was handed over to Tokyo police, who contacted the police in Sagamihara. During this time frame, Uematsu posted to his Twitter account that he expected he might be arrested.[20] He had previously posted tweets about Japan being ravaged by radiation poisoning and AIDS.[24]

Later that month, after his letter was brought to the attention of Sagamihara's authorities, he was arrested, detained, questioned, and then involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital for two weeks.[25] However, he was released on 2 March after doctors deemed that he was not a threat.[8][26][27][28][29]

In his letter and in statements made after turning himself in, Uematsu explained that he was "saving from unhappiness" both the severely disabled and those who he believed were burdened with maintaining their lives.[23][25]

Legal proceedingsEdit

On 20 February 2017, Uematsu was found mentally competent to stand trial.[30] On 24 February 2019, Uematsu was charged with 19 counts of murder, 24 counts of attempted murder, two counts of illegal confinement causing injury, three counts of illegal confinement, one count of unlawful entry, and one count of violating the swords and firearms control law.[31]

Uematsu's defense team said they planned to argue that he was mentally incompetent at the time of the crime, due to the effects of marijuana. On 23 December 2019, Uematsu said he would admit to the crime during the trial, saying that denying the charges against him "would be quibbling and make the trial too complex."[32][33][34]

On 8 January 2020, Uematsu pleaded not guilty to the stabbings.[35] On 17 February 2020, the prosecution announced that the death penalty was officially sought against Uematsu saying the rampage was "inhumane" and that left "no room for leniency."[36]

On 16 March 2020, Uematsu was sentenced to death by the Yokohama District Court, having previously said he would not challenge any verdict or sentence.[37][38]

On 30 March 2020, Uematsu's death sentence was finalized as he withdrew automatic appeal to the upper courts.[39]

In April 2022, two years after his sentencing, Uematsu appealed for a re-trial for his case, and the petition is currently pending in the courts.[40]


Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary at the time, acknowledged that the attack was "a very heart-wrenching and shocking incident in which many innocent people became victims".[3][7] He also said that the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare would investigate ways to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.[1]

A number of Japanese news outlets ran editorials calling the stabbings a hate crime.[41][42][43][44] By September 2016, little information had been released about the victims of the attack. Reuters wrote that this was due to Japanese culture and stigma, being less accepting of physically and cognitively impaired persons.[45]

The care home has been demolished. Facilities where no one was attacked, such as the administration building and gymnasium, remain.[46] On 13 September 2016, the governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, Yūji Kuroiwa, said the facility would be rebuilt.[47] The new facility of two buildings opened in July 2021.[48]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Grinberg, Emanuella (25 July 2016). "Japan knife attack: At least 19 dead". CNN. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e McCurry, Justin (25 July 2016). "Japan knife attack: 19 killed and dozens wounded in stabbing". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Japan Sagamihara knife attack: At least 19 dead, reports say". BBC News. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  4. ^ "At least 15 killed, dozens injured in knifing near Tokyo". Associated Press. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Japanese man accused of killing 19 disabled people sentenced to death". The Straits Times (Singapore). 16 March 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  6. ^ "Care facility staffers express concern over security following Kanagawa stabbing". The Japan Times. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Mallard, William; Beech, Eric; Herskovitz, Jon (25 July 2016). "Nineteen feared dead after knife attack in Japan: media reports". Reuters. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d Woolf, Nicky (25 July 2016). "Japan attack: suspect turns himself in after 19 killed in stabbing – live". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Stabbing spree in Japan leaves at least 19 dead". Nikkei Asian Review. 25 July 2016. Archived from the original on 26 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  10. ^ Fifield, Anna (25 July 2016). "19 people reported dead in knife attack in Japan". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ "「津久井やまゆり園」とは? 元職員が入所者を刺し19人死亡" [What is "Tsukui Yamayurien"? Former employee stabbed residents and killed 19 people]. Huffington Post Japan (in Japanese). 25 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  12. ^ a b Fifield, Anna (25 July 2016). "Suspect arrested after knife attack outside Tokyo leaves at least 15 dead and 26 injured". National Post. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  13. ^ Hiyama, Hiroshi (27 July 2016). "Japan knife attacker grins before cameras". Business Insider. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Man arrested after killing 15 and wounding 45 in knife attack at Kanagawa care facility". The Japan Times. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  15. ^ Rich, Motoko (25 July 2016). "At Least 15 Are Killed in Knife Attack Near Tokyo". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  16. ^ "At least 15 people reported dead in knife attack in Japan". The Washington Post. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Ex-employee stabs 19 people to death in Japan care home". Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network. 26 July 2016. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  18. ^ Warnock, Eleanor; Obe, Mitsuru (26 July 2016). "Mass Killing in Japan Shocks a Gentle Nation". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  19. ^ a b Rich, Motoko (25 July 2016). "Japan Knife Attack Kills 19 at Center for Disabled". The New York Times.
  20. ^ a b "Japan knife attack: Who is suspect Satoshi Uematsu?". BBC. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  21. ^ Connor, Neil (26 July 2016). "Japan knife attack suspect said 'disabled people should be euthanised,' before killing 19". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  22. ^ McCurry, Justin (26 July 2016). "Japan care home attack: picture emerges of modest man with horrifying vision". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  23. ^ a b c "Letter by man accused of mass stabbings carried eerie warning". The Asahi Shimbun. Associated Press. 26 July 2016. Archived from the original on 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  24. ^ Lies, Elaine; Ha, Kwiyeon (26 July 2016). "Shock as peaceful Japanese town wakes to 'unthinkable' disabled center horror". Reuters. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  25. ^ a b "Suspect in Sagamihara care facility mass murder says he has 'no remorse'". The Japan Times. 27 July 2016.
  26. ^ "Tokyo knifeman kills nearly two dozen". The Sydney Morning Herald. Associated Press. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  27. ^ "Neighbors describe alleged stabber at facility for disabled as 'cheerful'". Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  28. ^ "Sagamihara knife attack / Neighbors, families express fear, shock". The Japan News. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  29. ^ Pascaline, Mary (26 July 2016). "Japan Knife Attack: Several Dead, Scores Injured At Care Center In West Tokyo". International Business Times. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  30. ^ "Accused killer of 19 at Sagamihara facility deemed fit to stand trial: sources". The Japan Times. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Suspect deemed fit to stand trial, indicted on 19 murder charges". The Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Man accused of 2016 mass murder at care home to plead not guilty". Kyodo News. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  33. ^ "Suspect to admit in court to mass murder at Sagamihara disabled care home". The Japan Times. 24 December 2019. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  34. ^ "Japan mass stabbing: Accused admits murders but denies guilt". BBC. 8 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Man pleads not guilty in Japan murder of 19 at care home". CNA. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  36. ^ "Prosecutors want death penalty for man accused of murdering 19 care home residents in Japan". CNA. 17 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  37. ^ "Care Home Killer Sentenced to Death". NHK World. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Satoshi Uematsu: Japanese man who killed 19 disabled people sentenced to death". BBC News. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  39. ^ "Death penalty finalized for 2016 care home mass murderer". Kyodo News. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  40. ^ "Death row inmate seeks retrial over mass murder at Sagamihara care home". Japan Times. 20 April 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  41. ^ "社説[障がい者施設殺傷]兆候は幾つも出ていた" [Editorial: Murder of facilities for people with disabilities: There were many signs]. Okinawa Times (in Japanese). 27 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  42. ^ "相模原の障害者施設殺傷 – 識者の見方" [Sagamihara Disability Facility Killing – Expert Perspective]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 27 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.[permanent dead link]
  43. ^ "【相模原19人刺殺】 憎悪と計画性、浮かぶ異様さ" [Sagamihara 19 people stabbed: Hatred and planning, strangeness that comes to mind]. Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). 2 August 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  44. ^ Takashi, Sudo (2 August 2016). "記者の目>相模原殺傷事件=須藤孝(政治部)" [Reporter's Eyes: Sagamihara Murder Case]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  45. ^ Ha, Kwiyeon; Sieg, Linda (16 September 2016). "FEATURE: Japan confronts disability stigma after attack". Taipei Times. Reuters. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  46. ^ "Razing at Sagamihara massacre site begins" The Japan Times May 8, 2018
  47. ^ "やまゆり園建て替えへ 再生に向け本格始動" [Full-scale start for regeneration to rebuild Yamayuri Garden]. Chunichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 13 September 2016. Archived from the original on 14 September 2016.
  48. ^ "New care facility built in city of Sagamihara five years after deadly rampage" The Japan Times, July 5, 2021

External linksEdit