School rebel linked to further murder

Kobe - A 14-year-old Japanese schoolboy who has admitted murdering and beheading an 11-year-old acquaintance because he hated his school may also have carried out knife attacks on two schoolgirls, police said yesterday. "We are investigating a link but have not yet confirmed the connection between the two incidents," a police spokesman said.

The two schoolgirls, aged 9 and 10, were stabbed in the same neighbourhood about two months earlier, and one of them died. NHK television quoted a prosecutor as saying that the boy killed his 11-year-old acquaintance "because he felt resentment against the school he has been going to".

In a letter sent to a local newspaper 10 days after the grisly crime on 24 May, the killer blamed Japan's authoritarian education system. "I am not forgetting revenge for the compulsory education that has produced me as an invisible existence and on the society that has produced this compulsory education," the rambling note read. The suspect, who has not been identified, was arrested on Saturday night. He was taken to the local prosecutor's office under heavy police protection on Sunday for questioning. One of his three lawyers said he had warned police to show care in dealing with the youth, who he described as "an ordinary boy like other boys".

The killing of Jun Hase frightened local parents and residents and put the nation into shock even before it was known that a 14-year-old had confessed to the deed. Ryutaro Hashimoto, the Prime Minister, took the unusual step of personally instructing police and government officials to do everything in their capacity to solve the case. The victim's head was left outside the suspect's junior high school with a note stuffed in his mouth saying in part: "Well, this is the beginning of the game. Stupid police, stop me if you can. It's great fun for me to kill people."

The killings have shone a new spotlight on Japan's education system, which puts students under great pressures from an early age. "Why did such an incident happen? What part of our education is wrong? If there is anything wrong with the education system, we must review and correct it," Hashimoto said.

n Tokyo (AP) - A former chairman of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, reportedly facing further questioning about the bank's alleged payoffs to racketeers, hanged himself yesterday in his bedroom. Kuniji Miyazaki, 67, died at a hospital. Dai-Ichi Kangyo, one of Japan's largest banks, has been embroiled in a scandal involving illegal loans to sokaiya, racketeers who threaten to disrupt shareholders meetings if they are not paid off.