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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Sexual assault
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 22, 2005
Date of arrest: 8 days after
Date of birth: February 1972
Victim profile: Airi Kinoshita, 7
Method of murder: Suffocation caused by pressure to the neck
Location: Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, Chūgoku region, Japan
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment on July 4, 2006

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Murder of Airi Kinoshita

In 2005, Airi Kinoshita (木下あいり Kinoshita Airi, April 10, 1998 – November 22, 2005), who was a seven-year-old first grade student from the Japanese city of Hiroshima, she was sexually assaulted and murdered by Jose Manuel Torres Yake (born February 1972). He assumed the false name Juan Carlos Pizarro Yagi. Yake was wanted for a child sexual abuse charge at that time in Peru.


An autopsy revealed that she had been murdered within 90 minutes of leaving school around lunchtime on Tuesday, November 22, 2005. She died of suffocation caused by pressure to the neck.

A local resident spotted the tape-bound cardboard box in which her body was found in a vacant lot in Hiroshima's Aki Ward. The box had been used as packaging for an oven sold in Higashi. Police said they suspected her killer lured Airi away as she was walking home and strangled her soon afterwards. Her schoolbag was found alongside a road about 300 meters away. She had been carrying a so-called crime prevention buzzer but it was missing when her body was found.

300 people attended her funeral in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture, her father Kenichi's hometown. The mourners included Ground Self-Defense Force members who served with her father, a soldier. "I was deeply shocked when I was told by police that she was probably murdered," her father said in an address during the funeral. "I feel animosity toward the person who committed the crime. I hope the culprit is caught soon."

Arrest and trial

Japanese police arrested Torres on November 30, 2005. He insisted that he was a Peruvian of Japanese descent. Before the arrest, the Japanese mass media suspected that the criminal was an otaku (nerd), but this proved to be false.

At first Airi's real name was reported in the Japanese mass media. However when it was revealed that she had been sexually assaulted, the Japanese media stopped using her real name. Despite this, Airi's relatives wanted her real name to be reported. On June 26, 2006, her father Kenichi said:

Airi is not 'a Hiroshima first-grader'. She lived here. It is all right to use her name.

After this speech, Japanese mass media resumed reporting Airi's real name. The speech made the name Airi Kinoshita famous in Japan.

On July 4, 2006, the Hiroshima District Court sentenced Torres to life imprisonment for sexually assaulting and killing the girl, citing his haphazardness. He had dumped the girl's body close to his apartment. Prosecutors appealed against the leniency of the sentence, demanding the death penalty. On December 9, 2008, the Hiroshima High Court reversed and remanded the original verdict. However, the Supreme Court of Japan demanded them to continue his trial. The Hiroshima High Court upheld the life sentence, resulting in the end of his trial because they had not submitted an additional appeal by August 12, 2010.


Kinoshita's death caused parents to panic in Japan, which had been thought to be a "safe society".

Yake faced a child sexual charge in Peru, and so the incident also gave influence on Latin America. A journalist, Kent Paterson, indicated him into debates of femicides in Latin America.


Killer of girl, 7, gets life term

Use caution on parole, Hiroshima judge warns

July 5, 2006

HIROSHIMA – A Peruvian man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for sexually assaulting and killing a 7-year-old girl in the city of Hiroshima last November in a case that led to a clampdown on immigration rules.

The crime by Jose Manuel Torres Yagi, 34, was “vicious and coldblooded” and he had intended to molest and kill Airi Kinoshita, presiding Judge Hiromichi Iwakura of the Hiroshima District Court said, rejecting the defense argument that he bore no intent.

Prosecutors had demanded he be put to death.

Iwakura stopped short of that punishment, saying, “The crime was not premeditated and the number of victims remains at one. We cannot say it is impossible for the defendant to be rehabilitated.”

But the judge added an unusual caution: “The defendant must pay throughout his life, and the court expects his parole to be decided with caution.”

Observers said the court’s decision not to give the death sentence, but to ask that parole be examined carefully, may add fuel to the debate about whether life imprisonment without parole should replace the death sentence.

Yagi, who entered Japan on a fake passport, strangled Kinoshita on Nov. 22 either in or near his apartment in Aki Ward. He left her body in a cardboard box in a vacant lot near his home, the court found.

Prosecutors said Yagi, who earlier reports also identified as Yake, should hang to show the court takes a strong stand against crimes against kids.

Yagi’s lawyers sought leniency, saying he had not intended to kill the girl and had apologized for her death.

His lawyers also had asked the court to give the Peruvian a psychiatric examination because he had said he “heard voices of the devil,” but the request was turned down.

Yagi’s trial was quicker than has been the norm. It began May 15 and was sped up by using new pretrial procedures that narrow down the points of argument.

Kenichi Kinoshita, 39, the victim’s father, told reporters prior to the sentencing “the culprit effectively killed her twice” by sexually assaulting her and then strangling her, and he deserved the death penalty.

After the ruling, he expressed strong disappointment.

“I have been working hard for revenge all this time, but the death sentence was not given to him,” he told reporters. “It’s like a defeat in the court battle. I feel so frustrated that I couldn’t have any vengeance.”


JAPAN: Slain girl's dad wants details of crime reported

Father tells media not to show restraint in covering sexual assault, murder of his daughter

Japan Times

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hiroshima --- The father of a 7-year-old girl who was slain in Hiroshima last November expressed anger Monday at the man charged with molesting and killing her and urged the media not to show restraint in reporting the nature of the crime so the public will better understand the truth.

"Sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl is equivalent to torture," Kenichi Kinoshita, 39, told reporters ahead of the ruling in the trial of Jose Manuel Torres Yake, 34, scheduled for July 4 by the Hiroshima District Court.

Prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for Yake, a Peruvian who is also accused of entering Japan on a fake passport, for the murder of Airi Kinoshita. When police were trying to establish his identity with Peruvian authorities, they also learned Yake was linked to a molestation case there.

"The culprit effectively killed her twice (by sexually assaulting her). I believe he deserves the death penalty," Kinoshita said.

He said the media may report the details of the molestation to help prevent further sex crimes.

"It is all right that details of the sexual assault are reported if such reporting results in preventing sexual crimes," he said, adding the media do not have to withhold his daughter's name.

"Airi is not 'a Hiroshima first-grader.' She lived here. It is all right to use her name," he said.

Yake is accused of strangling the girl at an unspecified location in or near his apartment in Aki Ward, Hiroshima, on Nov. 22, putting her body in a cardboard box and leaving it in a nearby vacant lot.


Slain girl’s blood found in apartment

December 22, 2005

HIROSHIMA – Police said Wednesday that bloodstains found in the apartment of murder suspect Jose Manuel Torres Yake match the DNA of the 7-year-old victim.

Torres Yake, a 33-year-old Peruvian, has reportedly told police that Airi Kinoshita did not enter his apartment and that he killed her outside the unit. Police have said they also found the girl’s hair inside the apartment.

Torres Yake is suspected of murdering Kinoshita on Nov. 22, putting her body into a cardboard box and dumping it in an empty lot.

Prosecutors officially charged Torres Yake on Wednesday with molesting, murdering and dumping the girl’s body.

Despite earlier denials by the suspect of an intent to kill, investigative sources alleged that he has changed his story and told investigators he heard an internal voice saying, “Kill her” and “Make her extinct.”


Hiroshima murder suspect had poor life, broken home in Peru

December 20, 2005

Jose Manuel Torres Yake, a 33-year-old Peruvian of Japanese descent arrested in the murder of a 7-year-old girl in Hiroshima in November, first came to Japan under an assumed name in April 2004.

When he was arrested Nov. 30, his name was released to the media as Juan Carlos Pizarro Yagi — the name stated in his passport — and his age was given as 30, but Peruvian authorities later confirmed his true identity based on fingerprints supplied by Japanese police.

All Peruvians have to register their fingerprints when they turn 18.

Torres Yake hails from Guadalupe, a town of 35,000 near the Pacific Ocean about 600 km north of Lima that has several families of Japanese ancestry.

There is no industry to speak of in the town, and after leaving school, young people tend to go to neighboring cities, including Trujillo and Chiclayo, in search of work or for further education.

According to his birth registration, Torres Yake was born in 1972 and is the youngest of four children, the others being a brother and two sisters.

His family was poor. His father tried to make a living by selling drinks from a stall. His maternal grandfather is thought to have immigrated from Nakagusuku, Okinawa.

His older brother was reportedly a good student, but Torres Yake did not perform well at elementary school, failing exams and falling two years behind his classmates, a former teacher said.

Around that time, too, he was separated from his father, as his parents divorced and the children stayed with their mother. But later, after dropping out of junior high school, he sometimes helped his father or found jobs on construction sites.

When Torres Yake was in his early 20s, he left his hometown, reportedly defying an order to appear before a court, and ended up in Lima, where he met his wife. He now has an 8-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter.

His wife said he had wanted to go to Japan, where all his siblings were already living, to earn money so they could buy a house, but that as long as the court order against him was effective, he faced detention if he tried to leave Peru.

He therefore illegally changed his resident registration in October 2002 to Juan Carlos Pizarro Yagi, allegedly paying $4,000 to do so.

Eighteen months later, in April 2004, he entered Japan under that name and went to the city of Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, to live with one of his sisters and her husband, and began to engage in packaging work with his brother-in-law.

About a month later, he moved to Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, where his older brother was living, but returned to Suzuka after two months, this time to live with his oldest sister’s family.

In summer 2004, he found work at an automobile-related plant as a transporter but was fired about six months later. One of his supervisors said: “His attitude at work was very bad. He even threw his work gloves at us.”

Last January, he moved to an apartment in Hiroshima that his sister found for him, but failed to get a steady job. According to a 31-year-old Peruvian acquaintance of his, he fell behind on his rent.

Then in July, he found work at an auto-related plant in Kaita, east of Hiroshima.

But again his attitude was poor, and he was absent one or two days a week. A former coworker, who wished to remain anonymous, said Torres Yake was not popular with his Peruvian colleagues, and he allegedly only spoke to female employees.

Some company workers, apparently unnerved by his behavior, reported about him to the Kaita Police Station, but an officer dismissed their complaint, saying “He is not causing any incidents.”

Due to his repeated absence from work, Torres Yake was again fired and he moved to an apartment in Hiroshima’s Aki Ward, where a cousin of his was living.

At noon on Nov. 22, Airi Kinoshita, 7, passed by the stone wall in front of his apartment where he often sat.

“I felt my daughter might look like this if she carried a satchel on her back,” police quoted him as saying.

Investigators say he effectively confessed to killing Kinoshita, quoting him as saying he had a sort of mental blackout at the time and does not remember what happened.



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