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The back page revisited

Stabbing of the U.S. Ambassador to Japan

© Michiko Hayashi / the back page revisited 2013



About the case:


At 12:05pm on 24th March 1964, a 19-year-old boy known only as ‘S’, invaded the United States Embassy in Japan and stabbed Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer in his left thigh. S was caught red-handed. 

It was discovered he was a paranoid schizophrenic and it became accepted that his crime was carried out based on his delusions rather than being politically motivated.

Several days after the incident he was moved to Tokyo Prison from Akasaka Police Station and underwent psychiatric tests. He was then moved to Tokyo Metropolitan Umegaoka Hospital and after the decision not to prosecute him

he was incarcerated at Tokyo Metropolitan Matsuzawa Hospital that summer.

In the spring of 1966, he appeared to be getting better and was moved from an isolation ward to an ordinary ward in February 1967.
On 31st August, there was an arson attack on the U.S. Embassy and S, who had been out overnight without permission, was called in for questioning over the arson.

On 1st September S was cleared of suspicion, but was once more moved to an isolation ward and his condition worsened as a result. At 5:50pm on 8th January 1971, he was discovered to have strangled himself in the male toilets of the hospital. He was 26-years-old.




I searched on the internet for an incident that shook society on the day I was born and came across the case of the ambassador’s stabbing.

I imagined how curious society were at the time about the process of Reischauer' s recovery, how much he cared about U.S./Japan relations, and also about the story of the man who was isolated in a psychiatric hospital and forgotten about. This was all happening at a time when the whole nation were excited about hosting the first Olympic Games in Japan.

The prison where S was detained was in Ikebukuro Sunshine City, now a commercial complex. Coincidently, I had just taken photos of The Sunshine Aquarium for a personal project. 

He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but as I believe that those who express themselves often get their ideas from delusions of some sort, I became interested in S and his story.

He was only 19-years-old at the time and had been dissatisfied with what he saw as the abuses of the American-style education system introduced after World War Ⅱ.

Although he had no intention of murdering Reischauer, by stabbing him he was trying to make his opinions clear to the world. After half a century his true intentions can finally be fulfilled in the retelling of his story.

translation by Ikuko Ishida

english proofreading by Rachel Sato-BANKS





1964年3月24日午後12:05、米国駐日大使エドウィン・O・ライシャワーがアメリカ大使館に侵入した少年S(19歳)に左大腿部を刺されて重傷を負った。少年Sは現行犯逮捕。彼は精神分裂病者であり、政治、外交問題と全く無関係な奇矯な妄想に基づく犯行だということが分かった。事件数日後より赤坂警察署から東京拘置所に身柄を移され精神鑑定を受け、都立梅が丘病院への強制措置入院を経て、同年夏に不起訴処分決定後、都立松沢病院に転院。 1966年春頃から少しずつ快復の兆しがみられ、1967年2月閉鎖病棟から開放病棟に転棟。 同年8月31日、アメリカ大使館で放火事件が起こり同日にSが無断外泊をして病院に不在だったことから、Sは放火事件の参考人とされた。 9月1日、嫌疑は晴れたが、Sは再び閉鎖病棟に移され病状は悪化。1971年1月8日午前5:50、病棟の男子トイレで縊死しているのを発見された。26歳だった。




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