In a poignant ceremony, bereaved families and residents gathered at Tsukui Yamayuri En care home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, to mark the seventh anniversary of a devastating mass stabbing that shook Japan to its core. The incident, which occurred on July 26, 2016, remains one of the country’s worst mass murders, leaving 19 residents dead and 26 others injured, along with two employees.
The families joined together in offering silent prayers at the renovated care home, where the tragic event unfolded seven years ago. The memorial ceremony was a solemn occasion, filled with grief and remembrance, as loved ones paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the senseless act of violence.
Among the mourners was a 59-year-old mother who lost her beloved 19-year-old daughter named Miho. Unable to bear the pain of losing her child, she expressed her enduring grief, saying, “It remains painful to accept the bitter truth that my beloved Miho will never return.” She urged society never to forget the incident, so the lives lost will not be in vain, and discrimination against the disabled can be eradicated, fostering a more inclusive and compassionate society.
Tsukui Yamayuri En care home, which was rebuilt in 2021 by the prefecture, now houses approximately 60 residents. The rebuilt facility stands as a testament to the resilience and determination of the community to heal and move forward from the tragedy.
The perpetrator of the horrific crime, former care worker Satoshi Uematsu, was sentenced to death, and his sentence has been finalized. In 2022, he sought a retrial, but the Yokohama District Court dismissed the request in April of that year.
As part of the commemoration, flowers were tenderly laid by a stand at a monument dedicated to the victims. The stand bears the names of 10 victims, inscribed with the approval of their families, serving as a lasting memory of the tragic incident.
The impact of this devastating event has reverberated throughout Japan, prompting reflections on the importance of mental health support and the need for a society that is compassionate and understanding towards those with disabilities. The incident has led to a collective commitment to foster inclusive education and create an environment that embraces and supports all individuals, irrespective of their differences.
Junichi Miyoshi, a teacher overseeing special needs students at an elementary school in Hyogo Prefecture, expressed his dedication to inclusive education while visiting the memorial site. He stated, “I am telling my students about the incident. I joined my hands in prayer, hoping to foster education that embraces all people.”
As the community remembers the lives lost in this tragic event, it serves as a reminder of the importance of compassion, empathy, and solidarity. The seventh anniversary of the mass murder at Tsukui Yamayuri En care home is not only a time of remembrance but also a call for a more inclusive society where the rights and dignity of every individual are protected.