June 1, 2004
Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
An 11-year-old fatally stabs 12-year-old Satomi Mitarai (御手洗 怜美, pictured) after an argument
Due to Japanese laws regarding the identification of underaged offenders, the attacker is referred to in the media as Girl A. She is also sometimes referred to as Nevada-tan due to a photograph, thought to be of the attacker, in a University of Nevada sweatshirt. (The suffix “-tan” is used as a diminutive form of the suffix “-chan,” typically used between friends or when addressing children.)
The girls attended the same school and had at one time been close friends. In their empty classroom during lunchtime, the two argued over internet messages which Mitarai allegedly posted, insulting Girl A. Girl A stated during her confession that Mitarai “wrote messages I didn’t like. I asked her to stop but we fell into an argument. I got tired of it,” according to The New York Times. Girl A then used a box cutter to slash Mitarai’s neck and arms. After the attack, Girl A left Mitarai in the classroom to bleed to death. A teacher discovered the bloody body after noticing both girls were not with the others.
Owing to her young age, Girl A’s sentence was considerably shorter than what would have been given to an adult. Typically, children under the age of responsibility in Japan (currently those under 14) would not be institutionalized at all, but Girl A was sent to a reformatory school due the severity of the murder. She was originally sentenced to 2 years, though the sentence was prolonged an additional 2 years. She was released in 2008.