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25th April 2003, 09:50
Serial child rapist charged with accomplice over fourth attack

A pedophilic rapist who recruited at least three accomplices online to accompany him on his crime spree last year was hit Friday with a fourth rape charge, police said.

Takamitsu Fujii, a 31-year-old used paper recycler from Tokyo's Edogawa-ku, is accused of raping a 15-year-old junior high school girl in October last year.

Police arrested Fujii's suspected accomplice for this particular crime, 22-year-old student Masaki Abe, on Friday.

The duo reportedly forced the victim who was returning to her home in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture, into their van on the night of Oct. 4, 2002, and raped the girl before freeing her two hours later.

The 31-year-old Edogawa man has already been indicted for raping and robbing a high school girl in the ward in April last year with another accomplice, Shigetomo Takahashi.

Fujii, Takahashi and a 19-year-old man from Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, whose name is being withheld because he is a minor, have been also accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Edogawa-ku in September last year.

Police said Fujii started recruiting men to rape underage girls with him on an Internet chat board from around February 2002. Fujii, Takahashi, Abe and the fourth rapist, who all hail from areas around Japan's capital, only knew each other by their nicknames, investigators said.

(Compiled from Mainichi and wire reports, April 25, 2003)

25th April 2003, 09:53
Net friends grill their lives
in barbecue chamber of death

By Ryann Connell
Staff Writer

February 21, 2003

At first sight, it could easily have been mistaken for a wild party. Portable gas barbecues were strewn around the tiny apartment and three young people lay on the floor as though exhausted. But this had been far from a good time.

A smell of charred coal filled the room, hiding the reek of death. Signs that the apartment in Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, had been turned into a death chamber were the windows sealed with adhesive tape and bottles of sleeping pills scattered around the floor.

Far from sleeping, the 26-year-old man, and two women aged 24 and 22 who were found in the apartment on Feb. 11 were well and truly dead. They had been for some days.

It was only after a 17-year-old girl approached the police that Japan found out how they had died.

"She was actually the girl who found the bodies. She's from Tochigi Prefecture and met up with the three people who died through an Internet site where the guy had posted a message looking for people who were interested in dying with him," a police source tells Shukan Gendai (3/1).

On Dec. 9, the man who died in Iruma had placed a bizarre ad on a website devoted to those looking to commit suicide.

"Applicants for mass suicide wanted. We will die of carbon monoxide poisoning. I have prepared a room where we can take sleeping pills and use portable barbecues to build up lethal gas. I have everything ready. I will provide sleeping pills and whatever to anybody who wants to take part. Only women may apply. Guys can cause trouble and lead to crimes being committed. Age is no concern. Let's face it, dying alone is lonely. The place is in Saitama Prefecture. The plan will be carried out from January to February. Only serious applicants need apply. Our names are Tsukiyo and Miyu," the message read.

Five days later, "Tsukiyo and Miyu" added another post to the site.

"All applications are closed," Shukan Gendai notes the message as saying. "Thank you to all those who expressed an interest in dying."

The initial message contained the e-mail address of the man who died. During the six days his ad was listed on the site, he received replies from the two women who would leave this world with him and the schoolgirl who discovered their bodies.

During January, the four people met frequently in a cafe in Tokyo's Shibuya to discuss the details of their demise. They talked about the timing of their deaths and the number of barbecues they would need to keep burning to build up a lethal level of carbon monoxide. Then, the schoolgirl decided it was a bit too early for her to die and pulled out of the plan.

During their brainstorming sessions, the three who died talked about their inability to find work, though none left a suicide note. Relatives of the deceased have been unable to provide the police with any information as to what motivated the young people to take their own lives.

Family members of both of the young women who died said they had heard the girls talk about wanting to die before, but none had any idea why the young women felt that way. Perhaps we are destined to never find out why.

"Loads of people post messages asking for advice on easy ways to die or methods on achieving a painless death," a woman who has often visited the suicide website tells Shukan Gendai. "But none of them ever talk about what problems they have that make them want to take their own lives."