Mass media has numbed us to the extent we generalize some of the most horrific acts of violence. What we fail to notice is that every day psychopathic criminal acts are occurring all over the globe. The abuse of a human life to the point of its destruction is something that can happen anywhere, including places we perceive as peaceful. The case Junko Furuta is one that continues to haunt the Japanese nation. Young women live with a fear of finding themselves in the same situation as that of the teen that was abducted and tortured for 44 days before being killed.
Junko Furuta was a teen like any other. She attended high school at the Saitama Prefecture in Misato, a place not far from Tokyo. Little is known about her prior to the terrifying experience she endured, which begun one day in 1988 on her way home from school. Four teenagers kidnapped and took her to the Tokyo family home of one of them.
Nobody knows for sure what was going through the minds of the underage criminals, who received minor punishment compared to the severity of their crimes, or if this was a choice at random. What is clear is that from the moment they took Furuta they turned her life into a nightmare. They started by forcing her to call her parents to tell them she was staying at a friend’s house. Once they eliminated her parents’ concern out of the situation, the teenagers proceeded to take turns raping her, without any intention of letting her go.
The future murderers Minato Nobuharu, Watanabe Yashushi, and Miyano Hiroshi appeared to follow the instructions of Jo Kamisaku, a low-level member of the Yakuza and son of the owners of the house were Furuta was kept in. He instilled fear on everyone including his parents, who were well aware of the abduction and rape of the young woman, yet did nothing to help her. Instead, they protected their son at all cost.
From the first days, the young men physically tortured Furuta by forcing her to insert several objects into her vagina. Some sources claim they even sold access for some Yakuza to witness her torture and rape, as well as being forced to masturbate. But the abuse continued in even worse ways. She was only fed cockroaches and urine, and would be beaten throughout the day while hanging from the ceiling.
According to several reports, the young woman endured over 400 sexual assaults by an unknown number of people. The crime was observed by at least a hundred people who kept quiet and became accomplices of this horror. The books written on the case and the impact it caused Japanese society detail the likely events of her final days. While she was brutally beaten, burned with cigarettes, her body and genitals cut with scissors, she cried for help to no avail. Soon after, sources claim that Furuta played a game with her abductors and won. This unleashed anger from the men who proceeded to light her arms and legs on fire which led to her death.
After raping, torturing, assaulting, and ripping away her dignity, the psychopaths threw her body in a gas container full of cement, and then left her outside Kyoto. Her weak injured body was left to decompose for almost year before authorities found her and launched an investigation. But, just like in the rest of the world, proper justice was never served. Her trial was treated as a felony committed by minors leading to ridiculously short sentences: the longest one lasting 17 years, which means that all her abductors and murderers are now free.
Experts believe none of the witnesses did anything for fear towards Kamisaku and his ties with the Yakuza. But how does anyone justify a 16 year-old woman being tortured and killed? It’s been over 25 years since this tragedy, and yet horrific events like this continue to occur worldwide. We can only hope for a future where people can walk safely home and for the likes of Kamisaku and company to disappear.
Translated by María Suárez