|Intro||Japanese high school student who was abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered in the late 1980s|
|A.K.A.||Murder of Junko Furuta, Concrete-encased high school girl murder case|
|Birth||18 January 1971, Misato, Japan|
|Death||5 January 1989, Adachi-ku, Japan (aged 17 years)|
Junko Furuta (古田 順子 Furuta Junko) was a Japanese high-school student who was abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered in the late 1980s. Her murder case was named "Concrete-encased high school girl murder case" (女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人事件, Joshikōsei konkurīto-zume satsujin-jiken), due to her body being discovered in a concrete drum. The murder was mainly perpetrated by four teenage boys, Hiroshi Miyano (宮野 裕史), Jō Ogura (小倉 譲), Shinji Minato (湊 伸治), and Yasushi Watanabe (渡邊 恭史).
Approximately 100 people knew about Furuta's captivity, but either did nothing about it or themselves participated in the torture and murder. Most of the participants were friends of the teenage boys, who were low-ranking members of the yakuza.
Furuta was born in Misato, Saitama Prefecture. As a teenager, she attended Yashio-Minami High School and worked as a part-time employee during after school hours. She lived with her parents, her elder brother, and her younger brother. Prior to her abduction, she had accepted a job at an electronics retailer, where she planned on working after graduation. One of her schoolmates, Hiroshi Miyano, had a crush on her and asked her out on multiple occasions. However, Furuta turned him down as she was not interested in a relationship. Miyano was a member of the Yakuza and wanted revenge on her.
On 25 November 1988, Miyano and his friend Nobuharu Minato wandered around Misato, with the intention of robbing and raping local women. At 8:30 pm, they spotted Furuta cycling home after she finished her part-time job. Under Miyano's orders, Minato kicked Furuta off her bicycle and immediately fled the scene. Miyano, using the pretence of it being a coincidence he was in the locale, approached Furuta and offered to walk her home safely. It is widely believed that Furuta rejected Miyano's advances towards her. She was unaware that Miyano was leading her to a nearby warehouse, where he revealed his yakuza connections. Miyano threatened to kill her as he raped her in the warehouse and once again in a nearby hotel. From the hotel, Miyano called Minato and his other friends, Jō Ogura and Yasushi Watanabe, and bragged to them about the rape. Ogura reportedly asked Miyano to keep her, so that they could all have a turn. The group had a history of gang rape, and had recently kidnapped and raped another girl, although she was released afterward.
Around 3:00 AM, Miyano took Furuta to a nearby park, where Minato, Ogura, and Watanabe were waiting. They told her that they knew where she lived (from a notebook in her backpack) and that yakuza would kill her family if she attempted to escape. She was easily overpowered by the four boys, and taken to a house in the Ayase district of Adachi, where she was gang-raped. The house, which was owned by Minato's parents, soon became their regular gang hangout.
On 27 November, Furuta's parents contacted the police about their daughter's disappearance. In order to forestall the manhunt, the kidnappers coerced her into calling her mother. She was forced to say that she had run away, but was safe and staying with a friend. She was also forced to ask her mother to stop the police investigation into her disappearance. When Minato's parents were around, Furuta was forced to pose as the girlfriend of one of the kidnappers. They later dropped this pretext when it became clear that the Minatos would not report them to the police. The Minatos stated that they did not intervene because they were aware of Miyano's yakuza connections and feared retaliation, and because their own son was increasingly violent towards them. Minato's brother was also aware of the situation, but did nothing to prevent it.
Furuta was held captive in the Minato residence for forty-four days, during which time she was abused, raped and tortured. They also invited and encouraged their other yakuza friends to torment Furuta. According to their trial statements, the four of them raped her over 400 times, beat her, starved her, hung her from the ceiling and used her as a "punching bag", dropped barbells onto her stomach, forced her to eat live cockroaches and drink her own urine, and forced her to masturbate in front of them. They inserted foreign objects into her vagina and anus, including a lit light bulb and fireworks. They burned her vagina and clitoris with cigarettes and lighters, and her eyelids with hot wax. They also tore off her left nipple with pliers and pierced her breasts with sewing needles. When her body was found, Oronamin C bottles were stuck up her anus and her face was unrecognizable. She was also found to be pregnant, despite the severe damage to her uterus.
Some of the torturers' friends have been officially identified, including Tetsuo Nakamura, and Koichi Ihara, who were charged with rape after their DNA was found on and in the victim's body. Ihara was allegedly bullied into raping Furuta. After he left the Minato household, he told his brother about the incident. His brother subsequently told their parents, who contacted police. Two police officers were dispatched to the Minato house; however, they were informed that there was no girl inside. The police officers declined an invitation to look around the house, believing the invitation alone was sufficient proof that there was no girl in the Minato house. Both officers faced considerable backlash from the community. Had they done their due diligence, Furuta's ordeal would have only lasted sixteen days and she may well have recovered from her injuries. The two officers were fired for failing to follow procedure.
At the beginning of December, Furuta attempted to call the police. However, she was discovered by Miyano before she could say anything. When the police phoned back, Miyano informed them that it was a mistake. As punishment, they doused her legs and feet in lighter fluid and set them on fire. They also pushed a large bottle into her anus, causing severe bleeding. She reportedly went into convulsions. During their trial, they stated that they thought she was faking a seizure, so they set her on fire again. She survived these injuries and continued to be raped and tortured. Furuta is reported to have asked her captors on multiple occasions to "kill her and get it over with", but they refused. Instead, they forced her to sleep outside on the balcony (it was winter at that time) and locked her in a freezer. One of the kidnappers told the court that her hands and legs were so badly damaged that it took her over an hour to drag herself downstairs to use the washroom. Due to the severity of the torture, she eventually lost bladder and bowel control and was beaten for soiling the carpets. She was also unable to drink water or consume food and would vomit after each attempt. She was also severely beaten for this.
The brutality of the attacks drastically altered Furuta's appearance. Her face was so swollen that it was difficult to make out her features. Her body was also severely crippled, giving off a rotting smell that caused the four boys to lose sexual interest in her. As a result, the boys kidnapped and gang-raped a 19-year-old woman who, like Furuta, was on her way home from work.
On 4 January 1989, after losing a game of Mahjong, Hiroshi Miyano decided to vent out his anger on Junko. At this point, Junko was barely alive. Out of frustration, the boys beat her with an iron barbell, kicked and punched her, and placed two short candles on her eyelids, burning them with the hot wax. They made her stand, and struck her feet with a swinging stick. At this point, she fell onto a stereo and collapsed into a fit of convulsions. Since she was bleeding profusely, and pus was emerging from her infected burns, the four boys covered their hands in plastic bags, which were taped at the wrists. They continued to beat her and dropped an iron exercise ball onto her stomach several times. They poured lighter fluid onto her thighs, arms, face, and stomach and once again set her on fire. Furuta allegedly made attempts to put out the fire, but gradually became unresponsive. The attack reportedly lasted two hours. Furuta eventually succumbed to her wounds and died that day.
Less than twenty-four hours after her death, Nobuharu Minato's brother called to tell him that Furuta appeared to be dead. Afraid of being caught for murder, they wrapped her body in blankets and shoved it into a travel bag. They then put her body in a 55-gallon (208 liters) drum and filled it with wet concrete. Around 8:00 pm, they loaded and eventually disposed the drum into a cement truck in Kōtō, Tokyo.
On 23 January 1989, Hiroshi Miyano and Jō Ogura were arrested for the gang-rape of the 19-year-old woman who they had kidnapped in December. On 29 March, two police officers came to interrogate them, as women's underwear had been found at their addresses. During the interrogation, one of the officers led Miyano into thinking he knew of Furuta's murder. Thinking that Jō Ogura had confessed to the crime, Miyano told the police where to find Furuta's body. The police were initially puzzled by the confession, as they had been talking about the murder of another woman and her seven-year-old son that had occurred nine days prior to Furuta's abduction. That case remains unsolved to this day.
The police found the drum containing Furuta's body the following day. She was identified via fingerprints. On 1 April 1989, Jō Ogura was arrested for another sexual assault, and subsequently re-arrested for murder. The arrest of Yasushi Watanabe, Nobuharu Minato, and Minato's brother followed.
Despite the shocking brutality of their crime, the identities of the boys were sealed by the court since they were all considered to be juveniles at the time of the crime. Journalists from the Shūkan Bunshun magazine discovered their identities, however, and published them. They stated that, given the severity of the crime, the accused did not deserve to have their right to anonymity upheld. All four boys pled guilty to "committing bodily injury that resulted in death", rather than murder.
In July 1990, a lower court sentenced Hiroshi Miyano, the alleged leader of the crime, to 17 years in prison. He appealed his sentence, but Tokyo High Court judge Ryūji Yanase sentenced him to an additional three years in prison. The 20-year sentence is the second highest sentence before life imprisonment. He was 18 at the time of the murder. Miyano's mother reportedly sent Furuta's parents 50 million yen (US$425,000), after selling their family home.
Miyano was denied parole in 2004. In January 2013, Miyano was re-arrested for fraud. Due to insufficient evidence, he was released without charge later that month.
Nobuharu Minato, who originally received a four- to six-year sentence, was re-sentenced to five-to-nine years by Judge Ryūji Yanase upon appeal. He was 16 at the time of the murder. Nobuharu's parents and brother were not charged. Furuta's parents were dismayed by the sentences received by their daughter's killers and won a civil suit against the parents of Nobuharu Minato, in whose home the crimes were committed. After his release, Minato moved in with his mother. He has not worked since.
Yasushi Watanabe, who was originally sentenced to three-to-four years in prison, received an upgraded sentence of five-to-seven years. He was 17 at the time of the murder. After his release, he married a Romanian woman.
For his participation in the crime, Jō Ogura served eight years in a juvenile prison before he was released in August 1999. He was 17 at the time of the murder. After his release, he is said to have boasted about his role in the kidnapping, rape and torture of Furuta. In July 2004, he was arrested for assaulting Takatoshi Isono, an acquaintance he thought his girlfriend may have been involved with. Jō tracked Isono down, beat him, and shoved him into his truck. He drove him from Adachi to his mother's bar in Misato, where he allegedly beat Isono for four hours. During that time, Ogura repeatedly threatened to kill the man, telling him that he'd killed before and knew how to get away with it. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for the assault and has since been released. Ogura's mother allegedly vandalized Furuta's grave, stating that she had ruined her son's life. It has also been reported that Ogura had run through his father's savings (money which was originally meant for Furuta's family), buying and consuming a number of luxury goods.
The sentences were largely regarded as being far too light for the crimes committed, and all four individuals were protected by special provisions applied to individuals 18 years old and younger.
During sentencing, the judge commented that "exceptionally grave and atrocious violence" had been inflicted upon the victim, and that Junko Furuta had been "murdered so brutally at the young age of 17, [that her] soul must be wandering in torment". Hearing the details of the brutal rape and torture, a spectator in the gallery fainted. Furuta's mother also reportedly had a mental breakdown, which required psychiatric treatment.
Junko Furuta's funeral was held on 2 April 1989. One of her friends' memorial address stated:
Jun-chan, welcome back. I have never dreamed that we would see you again in this way. You must have been in so much pain ... so much suffering ... The happi we all made for the school festival looked really good on you. We will never forget you. I have heard that the headmaster has presented you with a graduation certificate. So we graduated together – all of us. Jun-chan, there is no more pain, no more suffering. Please rest in peace...
Furuta's part-time employer, whom she worked for prior to her kidnapping and murder, presented her parents with the uniform she would have worn as a full-time employee. The uniform was placed in her casket. The location near where Furuta's body was discovered has been developed since and is now Wakasu park.
People around Hiroshi Miyano remembered he never forbade others from asking him about this murder. While talking about it, he was always playful and exultant, and acted as if it was none of his business. Thus, Shūkan Bunshun criticized him for being completely unrepentant.
In popular culture
At least three Japanese-language books have been written about the crime.
An exploitation film, Joshikōsei konkurīto-zume satsujin-jiken (女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人事件, Concrete-Encased High School Girl Murder Case), was made about the incident by Katsuya Matsumura in 1995. Yujin Kitagawa (later a member of the music duo Yuzu) played the role of the principal culprit.
The song "Junko Furuta" by Indonesian musician Danilla Riyadi is a tribute to her.
Her murder was the inspiration for the film Concrete in 2004.
The song "44 Days" by musician Mr. Kitty are also about the incident.