Schoolboy (12) in Nagasaki admits killing 4-year-old boy

Japan: A 12-year-old schoolboy has admitted killing a four-year-old boy by pushing him off the roof of a multi-storey car park…

Japan: A 12-year-old schoolboy has admitted killing a four-year-old boy by pushing him off the roof of a multi-storey car park, according to Japanese police.

Police in Nagasaki, 980 km south of Tokyo, are questioning the schoolboy, who was identified from pictures taken by security cameras.

The naked and battered body of Shun Tanemoto was found at a multi-storey car park in the city last week after he was taken from a store where his parents were shopping 4 km away, media reports said.

"I want to tell Shun's mum and dad I am sorry. I regret this," police quoted the suspect as saying during questioning.


For days, the crime has dominated domestic media, with reports showing pictures of the tiny Shun in the cloth hat worn by kindergarten children.

The police identified the boy being questioned by enhancing video images from security cameras near the car park, which showed him, dressed in a school uniform of white shirt and black trousers, leading Shun by the hand, media reports said. Footprints on the car park roof also matched the style of sneakers recommended for students by several local middle schools.

"I want to tell the culprit . . . you should spend your whole life atoning for this crime," Shun's father, Tsuyoshi Tanemoto (30), told a news conference.

The suspect could not be tried in a criminal court because of his age, but if found guilty in a family court he could be held in custody at a special reformatory for children.

Japan cut the age at which children could face criminal prosecution to 14 from 16 after a schoolboy horrified the nation by murdering two children and leaving the severed head of one outside the gates of a school in Kobe, western Japan, in 1997.

The latest case comes in the wake of the suspected killing of a 13-year-old by a group of teens on the southern island of Okinawa at the end of June.

"We don't know the truth yet, but if it was a youth crime, is it just a crime committed by one boy or is it something that the whole of society must think about? We must reflect deeply on that," Chief Cabinet Secretary Mr Yasuo Fukuda told reporters.

Experts say recent lurid headlines belie the fact that murder is extremely rare among Japanese youth. "The murder rate among young Japanese is probably the lowest in the world," said Ms Mariko Hasegawa, a behavioural scientist at Waseda University in Tokyo.

"It is because murders in general have become so unusual that cases involving people who seem to have personality disorders, such as the one in Kobe, stand out and give the impression that young people are weird."

The number of people who committed or attempted murder in Japan fell by about two-thirds to one per 100,000 between 1955 and 2000, Ms Hasegawa said. - (Reuters)