Technology

‘Twitter serial killer’ prompts Japan to review social media laws

Members of the media gather in front of an apartment building where media reported nine bodies were found in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan on October 31, 2017. Pic: Kyodo/REUTERS

Japan is considering a crackdown on social media following the arrest of a man suspected of killing people he met on Twitter.

The 27-year-old was arrested in October after the severed body parts of nine victims were found in his apartment in the suburbs of Tokyo.

His victims, aged between 15 and 26, were dismembered and concealed in coolers and tool boxes.

The suspect, Takahiro Shiraishi, is alleged to have identified his victims after they posted messages on Twitter contemplating suicide.

Shiraishi told investigators he had killed the nine people, including teenage three high school girls, and attempted to hide their bodies.

Eight of the victims were female, and one was male.

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The country was shaken by the discovery in a Tokyo suburb

The discovery of the dismembered bodies has shocked the country, which has notoriously low crime rates.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told ministers: “The suspect allegedly used an extremely dirty trick to lure victims and murder them, by exploiting their desire to kill themselves.

Mr Suga, who is the Japanese government’s chief spokesperson, said: “We absolutely have to take steps to prevent this happening again.”

To address the issue, Mr Suga suggested improved support for young people who posted messages to social media suggesting that they were suicidal.

“90% of high school students have smartphones… there must be a new world emerging that we have not seen in the past,” communications minister Seiko Noda told reporters.

Mr Suga added that the government would consider drafting new laws to address people sharing content relating to self-harm online – potentially requiring internet service providers to institute blocks.

Japan has the highest suicide rate among the G7. Although the figure has been falling since 2003, more than 20,000 people take their own lives annually in the country.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.


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