Teen arrested in Fukuoka mall stabbing fled rehabilitation facility a day before attack

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FUKUOKA — A teenage boy arrested after the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old female shopper at a southwest Japan mall on Aug. 28 reportedly disappeared without permission from an offenders’ rehabilitation facility a day before the incident.
The attack occurred just as the rehabilitation facility — which acts as a bridge between juvenile detention centers and society — was set to provide support for the boy. The events of Aug. 28 have shocked professionals who work to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents. However, an individual close to the rehabilitation facility believed to be the one the boy left on Aug. 27 told the Mainichi Shimbun, “We cannot provide any answers regarding this case.”
The boy, 15, of no fixed address, has been quoted as telling investigators, “I stabbed a woman.” He was arrested on the first floor of “Mark Is Fukuoka Momochi,” a large commercial facility in Fukuoka’s Chuo Ward, at around 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 28. The boy is under suspicion of violating the firearms and swords control law for carrying a knife with an 18.5-centimeter-long blade. Around the same time, a woman who works part-time in the city of Fukuoka was found collapsed and bleeding in a nearby women’s bathroom. She was confirmed dead shortly after. The Fukuoka Prefectural Police is carrying out a careful investigation into the boy’s potential involvement in the murder.
According to sources close to investigators, the teenager had been temporarily discharged from a juvenile detention center in western Japan on Aug. 26, and transferred to a rehabilitation facility in the prefecture. However, the following day he went missing.
Rehabilitation facilities accept people who struggle to support themselves, such as individuals without relatives, after they have left prison or juvenile detention. Private bodies and nonprofit organizations are certified by the national government to run the facilities using government commissions and donations. There are 103 rehabilitation facilities across Japan with a total capacity for 2,385 individuals — of these spaces, only 372 are for juveniles.
The facilities provide necessities such as living space and food, as well as support for people under their care to find new homes and jobs. As their objective is to help rehabilitate people by getting them accustomed to society again, users are basically free to go outside. But the boy now under arrest disappeared just a day after transferring to the facility, before anyone could properly attend to him.
Yuko Notohara, 71, gives lectures as a parent of a former juvenile delinquent and as head of the Fukuoka-based “Hahakogusa no kai” group, which supports parents of such children. She told the Mainichi Shimbun, “It makes my heart ache. We shouldn’t be blaming the facility for the incident, which happened as it was about to help the boy fit back into society.”
Yoshihiro Noguchi, the 77-year-old chairman of Kitakyushu-based oil company Noguchi Sekiyu, has been hiring former delinquents and others in an effort to support their rehabilitation. He also said it pains him to think of the 21-year-old woman who was killed so young, but added he is also concerned that “society is drifting towards making laws stricter so that people in rehabilitation facilities are kept for prolonged periods.”
Noguchi explained, “These youngsters were all brought up in different environments, and each of them faces varying issues. What’s needed is a system that offers advice on where they should live after being temporarily released and which takes into consideration their individual circumstances.”
The boy’s case will be sent to a family court and he is expected to be handed a ruling for the second time. According to a government white paper on crime, roughly 20% of people temporarily released from juvenile detention centers are put on probation or criminally punished for committing new crimes or delinquencies every year.
In 2018, 2,146 people were temporarily released from juvenile detention centers across Japan. These individuals were then transferred to different loc…
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