Executions · Japan · Serial Killers

Serial rapist/murderer hanged 

October 5, 1949 

Miyagi Prefecture, Japan 

Japanese rapist and serial killer Yoshio Kodaira is hanged for the murders of 7 

Kodaira became an unwed father at the age of 18 and enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Navy to escape his parental duties. While at war, he was stationed in China and willingly participated in the wartime atrocities carried out by the Japanese military of the time. He recounted one instance in which his unit locked a father in a closet, raped the women, then used a bayonet to cut a pregnant woman open and extract the fetus. 

When he returned to Japan, he married a woman who then left him when she discovered he had a child with another woman. In a rage, he attacked his in-laws, killing his father-in-law and wounding 6 others with a tire iron. He was arrested and released 8 years later. 

When he was released from prison, Kodaira began watching women and girls bathe. Eventually, he became bold, followed one of the women after her bath, then raped and strangled her. He repeated his method several more times with victims ranging from 15 to 32. In at least one case, he raped his victim after she was murdered. 

His was able to continue his spree largely unnoticed as the Japanese were under air raids of World War II. However, his downfall came when he befriended a teenager, introduced himself by his real name to her parents, then raped and strangled the teen. When she didn’t return after telling her parents she was going to meet with Kodaira for an interview, and when her nude body was discovered, police were quick to apprehend him. 

Kodaira, during trial, mused that his actions in China were seen as expected by the military, almost heroic, but when he perpetrated the same crimes on his own soil suddenly the government was outraged. In fact, Kodaira was one of the first people to bring light to the horrors the Japanese military brought to inland China.  

Kodaira was executed on October 5, 1949, and was calmly smoking a cigarette before being hanged. He said before his execution “I am fortunate to be able to die on such a calm and peaceful day.”

(Though Kodaira was hanged for the murders of 7, his exact victim count is unknown. He was tried for 10 but only confessed to 7, claiming the other 3 were not his victims. It’s possible the number of victims was even higher as many people went missing during the chaos of war.)

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