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Bodies of 2 Guam victims return to Japan

Publication Date : 17-02-2013


The bodies of two Japanese women killed in Tuesday's fatal rampage in Guam returned to Japan on Friday evening accompanied by the relatives who had travelled to the island with them for a wedding.

The JAL airplane carrying the bodies of Rie Sugiyama, 28, and her grandmother Kazuko Uehara, 81, both from the city of Tochigi, arrived at Narita Airport at about 6:20pm.

As the container carrying the coffins was unloaded from the cargo compartment at the front of the aircraft, JAL officials and others observed a moment of silence.

Their family members who returned to Japan on the same flight looked somber as they entered the airport's arrivals area.

Among them, two children--believed to be Sugiyama's 8-month-old and 3-year-old daughters--were held by adults and covered with blankets. They all remained silent as they boarded the bus arranged for them and left the airport.

The victims and their relatives had been on vacation in Guam to attend the wedding of Sugiyama's younger brother, which was scheduled for Thursday.

The two women were killed in an attack allegedly carried out by a local man who hit pedestrians with his car before going on a stabbing spree. Hitoshi Yokota, 51, was also killed, and 10 others were injured at the scene of the crime in a busy shopping district of central Guam.

Those who knew Sugiyama and Uehara from their hometown in Tochigi Prefecture were emotional about the return of their bodies and angered by their deaths.

One of Sugiyama's closest friends, who went to the same primary and middle schools, said: "I just can't accept seeing her again like this. Why did this have to happen to her?"

"She had a normal life ahead of her to warmly watch her kids grow up and look forward to their bright futures," said the 28-year-old woman, watching the arrival of Sugiyama's body at the airport on TV.

"Her family members and those around her must be horrified by what happened to her, but more than anyone, Rie must feel the worst," the woman added, expressing her distress.

The 65-year-old principal of the nursery school Sugiyama's 3-year-old daughter attends said the young girl was practising hard for a dance performance scheduled at the school on Saturday.

"Her mother was so looking forward to the event. I just don't know what to say, I feel so sorry," the principal said.

A woman in her 70s, one of Uehara's longtime friends, said: "I feel so empty inside. I'm sure she wanted to live much longer."

"I just want to say, 'Welcome home.' But it's so hard that this is the only thing I can say to her," she added in a choked voice.


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