Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Journalists Killed in 2003 - Motive Confirmed: Satoru Someya

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date January 2004
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Journalists Killed in 2003 - Motive Confirmed: Satoru Someya, January 2004, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

September 6, 2003, in Tokyo, Japan

Locksmith Keizo Sakurai and two accomplices kidnapped and then murdered freelance journalist Someya. On September 12, police found Someya's body near a pier in Tokyo Bay. On April 27, 2004, Sakurai pleaded guilty in the Tokyo District Court to murdering Someya in retribution for Someya's reporting about Sakurai's alleged criminal activities, according to Japanese press reports.

According to his confession, Sakurai, together with Yoshihiro Kumamoto and Ryoichi Fujii, kidnapped Someya in Tokyo on September 6, 2003, and held him in an apartment, where they tried to force him to apologize for portraying Sakurai in a negative light in his book Kabukicho Underground.

When Someya refused to apologize, the three men put him on a boat, stabbed him several times, and dumped his body in Tokyo Bay.

When police found Someya's body, it was wrapped in a weighted chain, his hands were tied with rope, and he had eight stab wounds in his back and two gashes in his head, according to police reports. Kumamoto and Fujii also pleaded guilty in the case. Sakurai, Kumamoto, and Fujii were formally charged with murder on January 16, 2004.

Someya, 38, reported for various magazines about organized crime in Tokyo under the pen name Kuragaki Kashiwabara. In July 2003, he published Kabukicho Underground, a book about Chinese criminal groups operating in Kabukicho, Tokyo's notorious red light district. Although Someya had praised Sakurai in a 2002 book, Sakurai believed that Someya's portrayal in Kabukicho Underground of an unnamed locksmith involved in criminal activities referred to him. When pleading guilty, Sakurai stated, "If I did not kill him, I would still have been a victim of false accusations by the dirty writer and would have suffered social ostracism. I could not help but kill him," according to a report in the Japan Times.

In the postscript to Kabukicho Underground, Someya wrote that he might be in danger because of his investigations, according to press reports.

Job:Print Reporter
Beats Covered:Crime
Local or Foreign:Local
Type of Death:Murder
Suspected Source of Fire:Local Residents
Taken Captive:Yes


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