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Over 10 threats to kill teachers, student received in Osaka, Wakayama prefs.

The Osaka Prefectural Police headquarters (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- A series of messages threatening to kill several teachers at a private high school in west Japan's Kinki region were sent to Osaka and Wakayama prefectural police, a source close to the case has told the Mainichi Shimbun.

    It was also found that two municipalities in Osaka Prefecture received threats sent by someone pretending to be one of the teachers. It stated that they would kidnap and murder an elementary school student. Both prefectural police departments believe that the same single person is involved in these incidents based on the wording of messages, and are investigating the case on suspicion of intimidation and forcible obstruction of business.

    According to investigative sources, threats were confirmed in more than 10 incidents over a period of about three months from February.

    Osaka Prefectural Police received the threatening letters via the opinion and request section of its website and by email. They mentioned the name of a male teacher working at the private high school, and stated, "I can kill him anytime as long as he goes out," and, "I will set fire to his house." Meanwhile, Wakayama Prefectural Police received death threats via email against two other teachers working at the school.

    The Wakayama Prefectural Police headquarters (Mainichi/Shinji Kurokawa)

    On May 3, a threatening letter was posted to the inquiry sections of both the Sakai and Hirakata city governments' websites in Osaka Prefecture, claiming that an unspecified female elementary school student would be kidnapped and murdered after the Golden Week holiday period from late April through early May. The threats were in the name of one of the three teachers threatened with murder, and the wording was very similar to the other messages. It has been confirmed that this teacher was not involved in sending them.

    In the course of their investigation, the two prefectural police forces found that most of the emails and posts were sent via an overseas server. It is suspected that the anonymization software Tor, which allows communication without leaving a record of the sender's origin, was used. Police are investigating whether the teachers mentioned in the threats have encountered any trouble.

    The municipal education boards of Sakai and Hirakata were busy ensuring the safety of children and students on May 6, which was considered "the day of the crime." The Sakai Municipal Government asked guardians at all 135 elementary and junior high schools to pick up their children after school. The Hirakata Municipal Government also strengthened its monitoring at all elementary and junior high schools when students left school, and club activities were canceled.

    An official of the Sakai Municipal Board of Education remained outraged in the wake of the threats, saying, "They are despicable acts that disrupt the school scene and are unforgivable."

    Meanwhile, a person in charge at the high school where the three teachers are working told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We are still keeping our guard up to protect the teachers and students, which is a big hassle for us. We would like to respond carefully while seeking instructions from police."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Kori and Minhyang Hong, Osaka City News Department)

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