YOKOHAMA – The suspect in the massacre of 19 mentally disabled people at a care facility in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, about a year ago was inspired by remarks made by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and the activities of the Islamic State group, according to his recent letters.
In an exchange of letters with Jiji Press, Satoshi Uematsu, 27, confesses that he “strongly felt” Trump was “talking about truth” when he reportedly said in a speech that there were many unhappy people in the world.
“I wished that I could change the world, where unhappiness is everywhere,” Uematsu said at the beginning of his first letter, while noting that severely disabled people “steal others’ happiness and spread unhappiness.”
“Many people are pressed with burdensome work of caring for (disabled people),” Uematsu said. “I don’t believe we can increase happiness by saving lives unconditionally.”
Uematsu, who used to work at the Tsukui Yamayuri-en care facility, did not express remorse or apologize to the victims or their families in the letters.
In the pre-dawn hours of July 26, 2016, Uematsu broke into the care center armed with five knives. After tying up the staff, he killed 19 residents between the ages of 19 and 70 and wounded 26 others, including two of the workers.
Afterward, he turned himself in to the Kanagawa Prefectural Police and was arrested. It was one of Japan’s worst mass killings since the war.
Last February, after a five-month psychiatric evaluation had been conducted, the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted Uematsu on murder and other charges, concluding he had the capacity to take responsibility for his actions.
In the letters, Uematsu insisted that mentally disabled people should be euthanized for the good of their families and other guardians. He argued that decisions on whether to do so or not should be based on communication ability.
During the massacre, Uematsu asked one of the staff at the center to tell him which residents could speak. He may have picked his targets based on the severity of their disabilities.
About five months before the attack, when he was forcibly institutionalized for making disturbing remarks, Uematsu is said to have expressed support for Nazi eugenics.
But in the letter exchange, he condemned Nazi eugenics as ignoring the dignity and definition of human. He did not elaborate.
He also voiced complaints about life in detention and his meals. “I sometimes miss life in the outside world,” he said.
Uematsu used extremely polite wording in the letters and stated his claims calmly, unlike a letter he sent to the speaker of the House of Representatives ahead of the attack, which contained parts that seemed incoherent.
Told about the content of Uematsu’s letters, Takashi Ono, the 73-year-old father of attack victims Kazuya Ono, 44, who was seriously wounded, lashed out at Uematsu.
“No matter how severe (a person’s) disability levels are, any given lives should never be threatened,” Ono emphasized.
Ono remembers that Uematsu appeared to be good person while he was working at Tsukui Yamayuri-en.
“It was impossible to figure out that he had such abnormal ideas. It’s horrible,” he said.