Futoshi Matsunaga is a Japanese serial killer who both defrauded and tortured his victims in what is publicly known as the Kitakyusyu Serial Murder Incident.
He was convicted of six counts of murder and one count of manslaughter, including those of two children, between the years 1996 and 1998. He murdered his victims with an accomplice, Junko Ogata.
His crimes were so atrocious that most mass media were not willing to report the details. The Japan Times reported that prosecutors said “[the case] is without comparison in the criminal history of our country”. Despite that, several writers, including Ryuzo Saki, published the details of the crimes.
Early Life of Futoshi Matsunaga
Futoshi Matsunaga was born in Kokura Kita-ku, Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka Prefecture and grew up in Yanagawa. He received good grades in school and had a charming personality, but tended to exhibit disciplinary problems. Eventually he was transferred to another high school because of his relationship with a junior high school girl. He married at 19, and had a son.
In October of 1982, during his marriage, he became involved with Junko Ogata, in addition to the ten or so mistresses with whom he was already involved. In 1984 he promised to marry Junko, but Junko’s mother, Shizumi, did not approve of Matsunaga’s abuse of her daughter. He then raped Shizumi as well.
Junko attempted suicide in February 1985. Futoshi Matsunaga then convinced Junko that her family hated her because of this. He and Junko began living together in 1985. Two years earlier, Matsunaga opened a futon company named the World, and in 1985 purchased a building in which to operate the company.
Around that time, he began to electrically shock his employees on the third floor of the building. He would sometimes suddenly and vigorously start shouting towards other men, saying things like “there is a spirit behind you! It is sucking away your fortune!” occasionally mixing in religious words like saṃsāra and referring to kami. His wife escaped with her son and accused him of domestic violence. He had stolen 180 million yen (approximately $2.2 million) through fraud or blackmail.
In 1992, he and Junko evaded police capture and were put on the nation’s most wanted list.
The First Two Victims of Futoshi Matsunaga
Matsunaga’s first victim was a married woman with three children. In April 1993, he convinced her to leave her husband and run away with him, telling the woman that Junko was his sister. One of her children died under mysterious circumstances in September 1993. Her two other children went to live with their father and grandfather in October 1993.
During their relationship, Futoshi Matsunaga defrauded the woman for 11.8 million yen (approximately $145,510.00). The woman died mysteriously in March 1994, and the police were unable to prove that Matsunaga had killed the woman or her child.
Captivity and Murders
Futoshi Matsunaga lived in a condominium in Kokura Kita-ku, Kitakyushu. In 1994, he began victimizing Kumio Toraya and his daughter.
Kumio confided to Matsunaga some information about his previous criminal history; Matsunaga then used this information to blackmail Kumio. Kumio even admitted to previous crimes which he had not committed.
Kumio and his daughter were held captive in Matsunaga’s room. Matsunaga tortured Kumio with electric shocks, forced him to eat his own feces, and forced his daughter to bite her father. Kumio was 34 when he died of the effects of this abuse on February 26, 1996.
Futoshi Matsunaga convinced Kumio’s daughter that she had murdered her father. He told Junko and the girl to dispose of the remains. Kumio’s remains were thrown into the sea near the Kunisaki Peninsula after being pulverized.
The same year, Matsunaga found another target; a woman who had been an acquaintance of Kumio. Matsunaga promised to marry her. He claimed he was a graduate of Kyoto University.
Futoshi Matsunaga defrauded the woman of 5.6 million yen (approximately $69,066.00). She and her daughter had gone to his room and they were then held captive there. The woman escaped by jumping from the second floor to the ground in March 1997. She was put into the care of a mental hospital and her daughter was released.
One day in April 1997, Junko left for work and did not return. Matsunaga called Junko’s family, informing them of her absence. He continued to blackmail Shizumi. He made threats to Junko’s family, and told them that Junko was a murderer.
Futoshi Matsunaga then faked his own suicide. Believing him to be dead, Junko returned, only to find him alive. Matsunaga continued to treat Junko abusively. Matsunaga also raped Junko’s married sister, Rieko.
Junko’s family gave 63 million yen (approximately $777,116.00) to Matsunaga, after which he held them captive. He abused the vaginas of Shizumi and Rieko with electric shocks. He controlled the family in ways similar to the methods that cult-leader Shoko Asahara had used.
On December 21, 1997, he coerced Junko to torture her 61-year-old father, Takashige, to death by electrocution.
After suffering Matsunaga’s continued abuse, Shizumi’s mental state began to deteriorate. He commanded Rieko and her husband Kazuya to strangle Shizumi on January 20, 1998. She was 58.
Eventually, Rieko began to lose her hearing. On February 10, 1998 Futoshi Matsunaga commanded Kazuya to strangle Rieko, while their 10-year-old daughter Aya held her down. Rieko was 33.
Matsunaga and Junko then confined Kazuya in a bathroom, where he starved to death on April 13, 1998. He was 38.
Futoshi Matsunaga forced Junko, Aya, and Kumio’s daughter to kill Rieko’s 5-year-old son, Yuki. On May 17, 1998 Aya strangled Yuki while Junko and Kumio’s daughter held him down.
During the trial, Kumio’s daughter testified that Matsunaga and Junko had tortured Aya with electricity. Junko, however, denied Kumio’s daughter’s testimony about this, saying the girl’s recollections might have been inaccurate because of guilt feelings about committing her first murder. Kumio’s daughter strangled Aya on June 7, 1998.
Futoshi Matsunaga and Junko dismembered and boiled their victims’ remains in pots. The other residents of the condominium heard strange noises and smelled the stench. The victims’ remains were finally disposed of in washrooms or put out to sea. The condominium was renovated after the murders. Matsunaga blamed the murders on Junko, who, with their two children, were the only survivors in her family.
Matsunaga’s crimes continued. In July 2000, Matsunaga convinced another woman to go away with him, lured by the prospect of marriage. In August 2001, she gave her twin children to him and Junko. Matsunaga and Junko then convinced the woman to give them 20 million yen (approximately $246,580.00), telling her that they would need the money to bring up her children.
Arrest and Trial
Kumio’s daughter, who was being held captive, escaped from Futoshi Matsunaga on January 30, 2002, but Matsunaga found the girl on February 15, 2002 and took her back into captivity. He then tortured the girl with electric shocks.
On March 6, 2002, the girl escaped from Matsunaga again, and reported the crimes to the police. She was 17 years old. The police arrested Matsunaga and Junko the next day when they tried to retrieve the girl. The twins and the couple’s two children were taken into police protection.
The media initially reported only that Futoshi Matsunaga and Junko had held their victims captive, similar to the case of Fusako Sano, but eventually the media revealed the details of the murders Matsunaga and Junko had committed.
The pair were charged with Aya’s murder on September 18, 2002; Takashige’s murder on October 12, 2002; Shizumi’s murder on December 6, 2002; Yuki’s murder on January 11, 2003; Kumio’s murder on February 3, 2003; Rieko’s murder on February 25, 2003; and Kazuya’s murder on May 30, 2003.
No murder charges were brought against Kumio’s daughter. Junko calmly confessed to her part in the murders, but Futoshi Matsunaga professed his own innocence. He insisted that the women had fabricated their stories about him. The Japanese police never recovered any human remains and found no physical evidence, so they primarily relied upon the testimonies of Kumio’s and Junko’s daughters during the police investigation.
On September 28, 2005, a district court in Fukuoka sentenced Futoshi Matsunaga and Junko to die by hanging. The court tried six cases, but considered that Matsunaga and Junko had not killed Takashige directly, they had only injured him by electric shocks, which later resulted in his death.
The pair appealed the verdict. On September 26, 2007, a high court upheld Matsunaga’s original sentence, but Junko’s sentence was changed from death by hanging to life imprisonment because Futoshi Matsunaga had exerted control over Junko to force her to kill the victims.