Murder keys Japan vid crackdown

TOKYO — The cry that Hollywood was corrupting the morals of young people did not die with Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign.

In the wake of the beheading of an 11-year-old boy and the subsequent arrest of a 14-year-old boy for the crime, Japan’s politicians, police and media have cast a finger of blame at U.S.-made horror movies for influencing the grisly killing.

The severed head of sixth-grader Jun Hase was discovered at the front gate of a junior high school attended by the suspect May 27. He was arrested June 28.

Horror pic influence

A few days after the arrest, construction minister and cabinet member Shizuka Kamei called for restrictions on horror movies entering the Japanese market. Kamei told a press conference that Jun’s killer was influenced by horror movies.

“The incident gives adults the chance to rethink the policy of self-imposed restrictions on these films and whether they should allow them just because they are profitable,” Kamei said.

Chief cabinet secretary Seiroku Kajiyama pointed out, however, that it would be difficult to restrict horror movies, and even if restrictions were in place, they may not be able to prevent gruesome crimes.

While most of the talk about the killing has centered on the educational system and society that fostered the ghastly murder, movies and videos played a key role in identifying the killer.

The police compiled a list of 10 Hollywood horror movies it thought had acts resembling the killing of Jun. They circulated the list to video rental shops in the Kobe area, where the murder took place, and compiled the names of customers who rented any of the films.

Vid customer suspected

While the list has not been made public, police said the 14-year-old suspect was in possession of one of the 10 films. Sources close to the investigation have identified the movie as “Friday the 13th.” During the course of the investigation, Japan’s largest video rental chain said it would self-censor video boxes with graphic depictions of mutilations. The Tsutaya chain asked video distributors to change box covers for some of the titles in stock out of consideration for Jun.

The move came after Miramax Intl. postponed the opening of its hit movie “Scream” in Japan in June because of the killing.

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