In June 2008, Tomohiro Kato drove a rented truck into Tokyo's crowded geek district Akihabara, killing seven and injuring ten more innocent pedestrians.
The Japanese media tried to make a connection between either anime or role-playing games. Even writing a notebook full of English was viewed with suspicion.
At the time, Kato told police, "I am tired of life I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn't matter who they were. I came alone."
Currently on trial, Kato has stated that he was compelled to commit the murders after being harassed online, reports the Mainichi Daily News. "I did it as means to urge those who harassed me on an Internet bulletin board to stop it," Kato told the Tokyo District Court on July 27. "I shouldn't have committed the crime and I regret what I did."
According to Kato, people not only bullied him, but also posted messages on an online bulletin board using his name.
"I had repeatedly threatened to launch an attack unless they stopped harassing me, but they wouldn't stop," Kato said. "By launching the attack and having it reported by the media, I wanted them to know I really wanted them to stop their harassment."
Kato stated that he continued using the bulletin board.
"The real world is a society in which people must show their official stances but the Internet is a society where people can freely express their real intentions. The Internet was very important for me because I could frankly say what I really thought about," he said. "I had nothing else that could replace the Internet. It was my relations with others on the Internet that I really valued."
Kato told the court that there were three reasons why he went on the killing spree: "One is my own thinking. The two others are harassment against me on the bulletin board, and my way of life, which was deeply dependent on the board."
While he stated he had no intention of putting the blame on his mother, he did say the way he was raised factored in to how he turned out as an adult.
"If I couldn't recite my multiplication tables my mother dunked me in the bathtub, and when I was slow to eat, she scattered rice on a leaflet and force me to eat it," Kato said. "When I was in early elementary school, my mother had already decided that I should go to Hokkaido University's School of Engineering."
Kato apologizes to the families of the deceased and the survivors of the attack. "I'm sorry to the survivors and the bereaved families," the Mainichi Daily News quoted Kato as saying. "I will talk about anything if it can help prevent a similar incident from happening in the future."
On the day of the attack, Kato continued to post bulletin board comments like, "I want to crash the vehicle and, if it that doesn't work, I will then use a knife. Goodbye, everyone." His last comment before the attack read, "It's time."
The attack rocked Akihabara, a centre of manga, anime and video games in Japan, and resulted in increased security in the area.
Akihabara mass murder defendant says he committed crime because of Internet harassment [The Mainichi Daily News][Pic]