Japan’s “Twitter Killer” Sentenced to Death for Murders of Suicidal Women  


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Anushka Elavia, Staff Writer

Last Tuesday, a Japanese man, dubbed the nation’s “Twitter Killer” was sentenced to death in court for killing, dismembering, and storing the bodies of nine victims in his apartment in 2017, the majority of whom posted suicidal thoughts on social media. The Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court found the man, Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, guilty of his crime. Although his lawyers argued the victims gave consent to having their suicidal wishes fulfilled, Shiraishi claimed he would not appeal his death sentence, and even mentioned that they did not offer their consent. Police arrested Shiraishi in 2017, during their search for a missing 23-year-old Tokyo woman, after discovering the bodies of eight females and one male in cold-storage cases in his apartment, aged 15 to 26. Shiraishi named himself “@hangingpro” on his Twitter accounts and offered to help individuals with depressive thoughts. Public prosecutors revealed that he posted statements such as “It is not hard to hang oneself” and “If you cannot help yourself, I can help you”. Once the women agreed to meet with him in his apartment, he strangled, robbed, and sexually assaulted them before cutting up their corpses. 

Upon the news of this tragic incident, the nation erupted in shock, prompting Twitter to introduce rules against promoting social harm on its service, and led Japan’s government to expand telephone and online support for individuals contemplating suicide. In the court ruling, Judge Naokuni Yano declared none of the victims agreed to be killed and that Shiraishi was fully responsible for his actions. He proclaimed the crime was deeply heinous and had caused widespread fear in a society where social media had become an essential part of everyday life, NHK public television reported. Unfortunately, Japan’s suicide rates rank among the world’s highest. Following a recent decline, the number has reached an all time high as the pandemic engraved its horrible effects onto the lives of millions. As for preventing such afflictions in the future, it remains the responsibility of social media companies to ensure that their sites are being used in healthy and positive manners.