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Japanese teen boy dies after leap into river following rap contest loss

The Kanagawa Prefectural Police headquarters is seen in this file photo taken in Yokohama's Naka Ward. (Mainichi/Akihiko Yamamoto)

YOKOHAMA -- A teenage boy died on Dec. 19 after jumping into the Tama River in eastern Japan in apparent punishment for losing a rap competition among friends, police said.

According to Kanagawa Prefectural Police, a 16-year-old boy called police from near a bridge over the Tama River in the prefectural city of Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, at around 9:45 a.m. on Dec. 19, saying that his friend had jumped into the river. A Saiwai Police Station officer said first-year high school student Ratsuki Ota, 16, was found at the bottom of the river roughly 5 meters downstream from the bridge about 90 minutes after the phone call. Ota was later confirmed dead at a hospital.

The Saiwai Police Station disclosed that Ota was at the riverbed with five of his classmates from junior high school, where they took part in a freestyle rapping competition. As a penalty for losing the contest, Ota jumped into the river from a bridge column, about 5 meters above the water, with only his underwear on. He is believed to have climbed onto a bridge column from the riverbed, moved toward the center of the bridge and then descended on another column before leaping into the river.

Another 16-year-old boy who belongs to Ota's group also reportedly jumped into the river the day before. Police are questioning the five boys and investigating Ota's death.

(Japanese original by Junya Higuchi, Yokohama Bureau)

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