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Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Serial rapist (30 +) - Necrophilia
Number of victims: 7 - 10 +
Date of murders: 1932 / 1945 - 1946
Date of arrest: August 20, 1946
Date of birth: January 28, 1905
Victims profile: His father-in-law / Women aged between 15 and 32
Method of murder: Beating with an iron / Strangulation
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Status: Executed by hanging on October 5, 1949

Yoshio Kodaira (小平 義雄 Kodaira Yoshio, January 28, 1905 - October 5, 1949) was a Japanese soldier, rapist and serial killer. He was also one of the few ex-soldiers who said that the Japanese military had committed atrocities before the Second Sino-Japanese War.


Kodaira suffered from stuttering during his childhood. He joined the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1923. He paticipated in the Jinan Incident. He killed six Chinese soldiers in 1928. He raped or murdered many Chinese women in China. In Taku Forts, he stuck a sword into the belly of an expectant mother. The exact number of his victims in China is unknown.

He married in 1932 after he returned to Japan. His wife ran away from him because he had a child by another woman. He became angry, and attacked the house of his wife, killing his father-in-law and injuring six others with an iron rod on July 2, 1932. He was arrested, and was released in 1940.

It is believed that he raped and murdered ten women between May 25, 1945 and August 6, 1946 in Tochigi and Tokyo. At the fifth murder, he raped a dead woman. On August 20, 1946, he was arrested.

He denied three murders in the court, and the district court admitted seven of ten murders on June 18, 1947. One of the unproved three victim was unidentified. The Supreme Court sentenced him to death on November 16, 1948, and he was executed on October 5, 1949. Before he was executed, he smoked a cigarette and was calm.

Based on his case, David Peace published a novel Tokyo Year Zero in 2007.


Yoshio Kodaira

Arguably japan's most prolific serial killer of modern times, Kodaira Yoshio, born in 1905, was the son of a violent alcoholic and was describes by his first-grade teacher as "inattentive and listless; gets into fights on a daily basis."

The pattern continued throughout elementary school, Kodaira further handicapped by a severe stutter, scraping by with low grades and graduating barely-with the rank of 21st in a class of 23 students.  Apprenticed to a Tokyo metalworks in lieu of higher education, he drifted through a series of blue-collar jobs, none lasting more than a few months.  An unwed father at age 18, he joined the Imperial japanese Navy to escape his parental obligations.

As a seaman of the japanese fleet, Kodaira soon became accustomed to the low-rent brothels in various ports of call.  By 1927, he was involved in japanese actions against mainland China, participating in various atrocities that included the rape and murder of helpless civillans. 

As he later describes one incident, "Four or five of my comrades and I entered a Chinese home, tied up the father, and locked him in the closet.  We stole their jewelry and raped the women.  We even bayoneted a pregnant woman and pulled out the fetus from her stomach.  I also engaged in those depraved actions."

And loved every minute of ¡t.

Back in civilian life by 1932, Kodaira married the daughter of a Shinto priest over her father's objections.  The union was a stormy one and climaxed when Kodaira settled one argument by beating his father-inlaw to death with an ¡ron bar, injuring slx other family members in the process. 

Sentenced to 15 years at hard labor, he was released in the general amnesty of 1940 and found work as a civilian employee at a naval facility in Tokyo.  Most of his subordinases were female, and Kodaira made a habit of spying on them as they bathed after work.  On May 25, 1945, he raped and strangled one of them, 19-year-old Miyazaki Mitsuko, and hid her corpse behind an air raid shelter on the premises.

Japan was under frequent air attack by that time, her island fortresses in the Pacific falling to amphibious invaders, and Kodairas crime went undiscovered while the chaos of the war distracted the police from his crimes.  Encouraged by his success, he raped and strangled 30-year-old Ishikawa Yori en june 22. 

Three weeks later, on july 12, he repeated the procedure with 32-year-old Nakamura Mitsuko.  A fourth victim, 22 year-old Kondo Kazuko, died on july 15.  Matsushita Yosh'e, age 21, was killed on September 28; 17-year-old Shinokawa Tatsue followed on October 31; and 19 year-old Baba Hiroko on December 30.

Kodaira took a six-month breather after that, claiming his next victim-15-year-old Abe Yoshiko-on June 30, 1946.  Two more would follow before he was finally caught by police.

With no more female employees to victimize, Kodaira had worked out a new approach for himself, loitering in public places, offering to help young women purchase food or other items on Tokyos thriving black market.  So ¡t was that Kodaira met 17-year-old Midorikawa Ryuko on july 10, striking up a friendship that included visits to her home, where he foolishly gave his real name to the young womans parents. 

Ryuko disappeared on August 6, leaving home to meet Kodaira for an alleged job interview; her nude corpse was found at Tokyos Zoíoji Temple a few days later.  A second body, found nearby, was identified as Shinokawa Tatsue, reported missing by her parents in Shibuya.

Police went looking for Kodaira after they obtained his name from Ryukos parents, and he freely confessed his crimes with no plea for leniency and was sentenced to death on August 20, 1947. (In addition to the murders, he confessed to 30 or more rapes where the victims survived.) Two years and two months later, on the morning of October 5, 1949, Kodaira was hanged at Miyagi Prison.

In the wake of his execution, japanese author Edogawa Rampo tried to make sense of the case.  "The type of crime he committed was not particularly unusual," Edogawa wrote, "but to have repeated it, using the same methods, was definitely unusual. 

This incident can be attributed to the relaxation of morals that has occurred since the end of the war.  This is because all of us-the criminal, his victims, and society at large-all bear some guilt.  Moreover, the atmosphere of social neglect brought on by japan's defeat has brought out the beast in such individuals, particularly men who have returned from battle."

Edogawa did not not seem to think that "the beast" had been deliberately evoked by japanese wartime tactics reflected in such incidents as the Rape of Nanking, where at least 300,000 unarmed civilians were murdered in cold blood, girls and women raped by the tens of thousands in an orgy of violence officially condoned-and shared-by superior officers. lt was, perhaps, more comforting to share the blame among Kodaira's victims than to recognize the truth, namely, that Imperial japan had deliberately, consciously produced a generation of pitiless rapists and killers.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers


Kodaira and one of his victims.


Kodaira leaves the courthouse after being sentenced to death on June 18, 1947.



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