Warning: The Real Demons series is a collection of explicit stories about some of the most extreme crimes I’ve come across. These stories involve highly taboo subjects, and after much consideration, I’ve decided to keep details I initially felt were too severe to include. Thus, the stories are deeply disturbing – and, of course, all true. If you’re not fully comfortable with this, avoid the whole series.
It was the evening of 25th November 1988 in Misato, Japan, on the outskirts of Tokyo. 17-year-old student Junko Furuta was cycling home from her part-time job when a boy, Shinji Minato, 16, kicked her off her bike and ran off. Another boy, Hiroshi Miyano, 18, who went to the same school as Junko, helped her up and offered to escort her home. Of course, she had no idea that Miyano’s appearance was no coincidence, and that he’d told Minato to knock her off her bike. She also had no idea that the two boys had been cruising around looking for women to rape or rob, before targeting her.
Miyano, who was reportedly the school bully and liked to boast about his links to the yakuza, gained Junko’s trust and led her to a warehouse where he threatened and raped her. He later took her to a hotel nearby and raped her again. Miyano then phoned Minato, and two of their other friends, Jō Ogura, 17, and Yasushi Watanabe, 17, to boast about the rape. Ogura asked Miyano to keep hold of her, and the gang all met up in a park at half past midnight. They decided to abduct and keep Junko captive, threatening to have the yakuza kill all of her family if she tried to run.
This wasn’t the first time the four boys gang-raped a woman. Even before Junko, they’d attacked other women, though Junko was the first they decided to keep captive. She was taken to Minato’s house in Tokyo (which soon became the gang’s designated hangout spot) and presented as Minato’s girlfriend to his parents. Over the next couple of weeks, Junko was repeatedly gang-raped, beaten, and made to call her own parents to tell them that she’d run away from home, was safe with friends, and wanted the police search for her called off.
One night in early December, Junko managed to call the police while the gang were all asleep but she was caught by Miyano before she could speak. Her attempt to alert the police angered the gang, and from then on, she was brutally tortured. The list of atrocities that Junko was subjected to is tragically long. She was frequently kicked, punched and battered with heavy objects. They burned her genitals with cigarettes and lighters, tore off her nipple with pliers and forced foreign objects (such as lit fireworks and light bulbs) into her body’s orifices, including her mouth, vagina and anus. On top of this, the gang stopped feeding her, making her eat only cockroaches, which worsened her internal and external wounds as the human body cannot heal if it’s starving. Once she reached the point where she couldn’t even crawl to the bathroom, they gave her a cup too pee in and would force her to drink it.
The gang’s brutalisation of Junko wasn’t just limited to Miyano, Minato, Ogura and Watanabe, as they invited dozens of people to join them in raping and torturing her. Over one hundred people reportedly knew of her ordeal but kept quiet. Unable to bear the daily pain and torment, Junko often begged for them to just kill her. Weeks of torture had changed her appearance entirely and her heavily swollen face became unrecognisable. Her body was covered with wounds and burns that had become infected and pustulated. Thus, the gang were no longer sexually interested in her and soon sought another victim.
Around 2.30am on the 27th December 1988 they struck again. They grabbed a 19-year-old girl as she headed home from work and forced her into Miyano’s car at knife-point. They took her to a motel and gang-raped her, though unlike Junko, she was eventually released. By January 1989, the gang had already started making suggestions about what they should do with Junko, who was barely alive at this point.
In the wee hours of 4th January, after losing money during a game of Mahjong, Miyano went to Minato’s house where he, along with the other three, took out his anger on Junko in a ruthless attack that reportedly went on for a couple of hours. They brutally punched and kicked her, and placed candles on her eyelids so that her face was covered in hot wax; they then hung her up like a boxing bag. and took turns kicking her until she collapsed. Near death, Junko was bleeding profusely, yet the gang didn’t stop. They wrapped their hands with plastic bags to avoid getting blood on them and continued to punch and kick her, before dropping an iron exercise ball onto her stomach dozens of times. Miyano then poured lighter fluid on her body and set it alight, after which Junko became unresponsive. She died that same day, having been captive for 40 days.
The next day, Minato’s brother – who had been aware of what the gang had been doing at the house but kept his mouth shut just like his parents – called the gang and told them that Junko was dead. Worried about getting caught, they decided to dispose of her. They wrapped her body in blankets and put her in travel bag, sealed her in an oil drum with wet concrete, and dumped the drum near a development site.
THE ACCIDENTAL CONFESSION
Initially, it looked like the gang was going to get away with the atrocities they carried out against Junko. However, thanks to a small stroke of luck, they inadvertently outed themselves in front of the police, no less.
Not three weeks after Junko’s death, Miyano and Ogura were arrested for the gang rape of the 19-year-old girl back in December, though they were ultimately released. When women’s underwear was later discovered at their homes, a couple of police officers interrogated them again on 29th March 1989. It was during this interrogation that Miyano was unintentionally led to believe that the police knew of Junko’s murder, as he thought that Ogura had confessed to it, which he hadn’t.
Miyano told the police the location of Junko’s body, and she was found the next day. Aside from being badly decomposed, she was severely disfigured, and could only be identified via her fingerprints. Along with Miyano and Ogura, Minato, Watanabe and Minato’s brother were subsequently arrested for Junko’s murder. Unfortunately, despite the absolute brutality of their crimes, justice was not served. During the trial, the four gang members’ identities were to be protected due to their ages but journalists leaked their names anyway. While Miyano was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the rest of Junko’s killers received appallingly light sentences and Minato’s brother and parents were not charged for keeping their mouths shut.
*The vast majority of information I have on this case came from Japanese court documents that have been translated.*