| By Ryann Connell
Dec. 27, 2003
Shinichiro Wada was a minor celebrity among students at Tokyo's top universities for being something of an entrepreneur extraordinaire who ran slick parties, dabbled in publishing and reaped a small fortune while still on the books as a full-time student at posh Waseda University.
It was something of a shock, then, when Wada was arrested for rape on June 19 together with four of his buddies from Super Free, the student group they had turned into a lucrative business.
They were accused of plying a 19-year-old girl who attended a Super Free-run party with so much alcohol she was virtually senseless, taking her out to a dark building stairwell where they each alternated between keeping lookout and debauching her.
In the wake of the arrests, dozens of women who'd been terrified at what had happened to them after attending Super Free events came forward and also claimed to have to have raped.
As the weeks went by, the stream of women claiming to be victims continued and the number of arrests began mounting.
As the year draws to a close, 14 men, nearly all of them associated in some way with the type of university whose graduates have led Japan through the bulk of the postwar period, had been arrested for rape, including Wada and the other four arrested with him. Nobody knows the exact number they are presumed to have violated, though some estimates put the figure in the hundreds.
Many of those busted came from the top universities in the land, the arrest sheets reading almost like a Who's Who of Japanese academic institutions.
If the Super Free scandal hadn't rocked the Japanese enough, it was given even greater emphasis when twisted Liberal Democratic Party stalwart Seiichi Ota publicly defended the accused rapists, calling them "close to normal" and saying that rape was a sign of virility.
Those arrested for the rapes initially denied the charges, admitting that there had been sex, but claiming it was consensual. By the time Wada reached trial at the Tokyo District Court in September, all the accused had pleaded guilty and face some time behind bars.
If there was any silver lining in the dark cloud that Super Free cast over Japan, it was that the blanket media coverage of the incidents brought discussion of rape out into the open, instead of shoved under the carpet as though they had never happened, as had often been the case particularly in the mainstream media.
Having virtually ignored protests from women's groups for years, the widespread outcry over Super Free also led crimefighters to belatedly decide to tighten Japan's comparatively lenient punishments for convicted rapists. (By Ryann Connell, Staff Writer, Dec. 27, 2003)
Five students, including those from the prestigious Waseda and Gakushuin universities in Tokyo, were arrested Thursday for gang raping a 20-year-old woman, police said.
Second-year Waseda student Shinichiro Wada, 28, who runs a private event company called Super Free, was arrested alongside two fellow Waseda students, a Gakushuin student and a Nihon University student.
The five denied the allegations, claiming that they had consent of the victim to have sex with her in a staircase in a building in Tokyo's Roppongi district last month.
Takehiko Nishimoto, deputy president of Waseda University, expressed regret.
"We are terribly upset by this serious allegation. We are determined to take tough actions against such antisocial behavior," Nishimoto said. "We'll hold an emergency meeting of senior educators to get to the bottom of the incident."
Police said Wada, his fellow Waseda students Junichiro Kobayashi, 21, and Toshiyuki Numazaki, 21, Gakushuin freshman Daisuke Kobayashi, 20, and Nihon University man Sho Fujimura, 21, took part in a party organized by students of another college on May 18.
After the event, about 20 people from the party, including the five and the victim, moved to a Japanese style pub on the 12th floor of a building in Roppongi.
The alleged rapists took out the 20-year-old college girl, who was reportedly drunk, outside the pub at about 8:30 p.m. saying they would look after her.
Police said they gang raped the woman on the 11th floor staircase, with they took turns to keep watch in case anyone approached them.
Accompanied by a friend, the victim reported the incident to the local Azabu Police Station on the same day.
All five men were members of Wada's Super Free organization, which organizes various events for college students across Japan. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, June 19, 2003)
Shinichiro Wada, leader of a college students' group busted last month for gang raping a peer, has allegedly lured a number of women into his apartment and gang raped them, the Mainichi has learned.
Police have confiscated numerous photos of women being raped by several men, many of them taken at the 28-year-old Waseda University student's apartment.
Wada took the photos in an apparent bid to silence the victims, investigators said.
About 10 alleged victims of Wada and members of his Super Free group have contacted police since the five rapists' arrest on June 19, but their cases could be just the tip of the iceberg.
"We have done it (gang raped a woman) many, many times," Sho Fujimura, one of four rapists arrested alongside Wada, was quoted by police as saying.
The Super Free group was a student society at the prestigious Tokyo university that organized monthly private parties at top nightclubs.
The parties were followed by heavy drinking sessions at Japanese-style pubs, where members of the group picked up their victims.
"We lured drunk women back to Wada's home and gang raped them," a former Super Free member told Mainichi on condition of anonymity. "When they (rape victims) stirred up trouble we settled these problems financially."
Wada reportedly admitted to police that they systematically got the targeted woman drunk, often by mixing strong liquor into their drinks.
"We deliberately made an unsuspecting girl dead drunk. The one who managed to lure the girl out of the pub had the first option (to rape her)," Wada told police. It was Fujimura who raped the 20-year-old woman first during the May 18 incident in Tokyo's Roppongi district for which the five of them were arrested.
Wada also registered Super Free as a private company. He had a staff of 20, including Nihon University student Fujimura, 21, and three other arrested men -- Waseda students Junichiro Kobayashi, 21, and Toshiyuki Numazaki, 21, Gakushuin freshman Daisuke Kobayashi, 20.
The staff were divided into three groups: the first team, reserves and the boys, depending on the number of tickets for parties they sold. High-ranking members reportedly received a bigger share of profits from the ticket sales.
Super Free was dissolved following Wada's arrest.
Wada first dropped out from Chuo University in Tokyo. He enrolled in Waseda's School of Political Science and Economics in 1994 but left the private university seven years later after failing to pay tuition fees. He rejoined Waseda in 2002, this time attending evening courses with the School of Letters, Arts and Science. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, July 1, 2003)
Fresh rape charges were laid Thursday against a pair of elite Waseda University students already facing sexual assault charges, police said.
Being arrested for the rape of a 19-year-old girl alongside Shinichiro Wada and Shunichiro Kobayashi was Hideyuki Kishimoto, 28, a company president from Toshima-ku, Tokyo, who set up the company that the other two allegedly used as a front to overpower and sexually abuse young women.
During May 1998, while still a third-year economics student at the equally renowned Keio University, Kishimoto and his associates set up a company called Presents, which ran a series of parties for students.
Kishimoto's operation was a success and he attracted considerable media attention for running a prosperous company while still a student.
Wada later took over the company, renamed it Super Free and purportedly used its success to lure young women into his clutches. Kishimoto remained a director of Super Free until June this year, but has since begun his own personnel recruitment company.
Police said that some time in late November or early December 2001, Wada, Kobayashi and Kishimoto forced a 19-year-old girl to get senselessly drunk in the Super Free office in Tokyo's Toshima-ku before they gang-raped her. Kishimoto and Wada both lived in the same office-cum-apartment.
Wada, Kobayashi and four students who worked under him at Super Free have been indicted for rape. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, July 31, 2003)
Six men connected to a group from illustrious Waseda University all pleaded guilty to rape Wednesday as their trial opened at the Tokyo District Court.
Shinichiro Wada, the accused ringleader of the Super Free group whose main members purportedly made group sex attacks a habit, admitted to two counts of gang rape, but denied any premeditation.
Also entering guilty pleas for rape were Junichiro Kobayashi, 22, Toshiyuki Numazaki, 22, Daisuke Kobayashi, 21, Sho Fujimura, 21, and Hideyuki Kishimoto, 28, a former company executive.
Like 29-year-old Wada, Junichiro Kobayashi and Numazaki were Waseda students until they were expelled in July, while Fujimura and Daisuke Kobayashi attended Nihon University and Gakushuin University, respectively. Kishimoto, who is also facing two counts of rape, was Wada's predecessor as the head of Super Free.
All defendants have admitted to a number of gang rapes and their case sent shockwaves throughout the country, attracting blanket media coverage.
Wada, whose face has been plastered across TV screens, magazines and newspapers since his May arrest, appeared in the courtroom wearing a white shirt and black trousers.
He quickly admitted to being guilty as charged and offered his deepest apologies to his victims.
Sources told the Mainichi that Wada and his co-defendants had initially denied the rape allegations, saying they had been involved in consensual sex.
However, they appear to have changed their minds, with one defendant reportedly saying that he wanted to kowtow before his alleged victims to beg for their forgiveness.
Prosecutors told the court that Super Free organized huge parties that were well known among students. A prosecutor charged that Wada and his friends forcibly got drunk one of the women who attended a Super Free party in Tokyo during May and then took her outside and gang-raped her.
The prosecutor added that Wada, Shinichiro Kobayashi and Kishimoto had also gang-raped a woman in the Super Free office after first getting her drunk at a party in December 2001.
Each of the defendants has written a letter of apology to the two women they are accused of violating, but both alleged victims refused to accept them. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, Sept. 17, 2003)
Seven of Japan's "best and brightest" young men were arrested Wednesday and fresh charges laid against another four for gang-raping a girl earlier this year, police said.
Shinichiro Wada, the ringleader of a now defunct Waseda University-based party organizer group called Super Free, and three other men already being tried together with him for rape, were issued with further charges in connection with a violent sex attack on an 18-year-old girl.
The other seven, two of them minors and some of them associated with some of Japan's top universities, were also arrested for the first time.
Since Wada's arrest in June, about 10 women have contacted the police claiming to have been gang-raped after attending a Super Free event. Further charges may follow. Already 13 people have been arrested for rape in Super Free-related cases.
Among the newly arrested men were Toshihiro Yoshino, a 20-year-old Hosei University student, 20-year-old Soichiro Koizumi, a former Sanno Institute of Management student, part-time worker Yuki Sekimoto, 23, and two 19-year-olds including a Keio University student whose names cannot be disclosed as they are minors.
Police said that Super Free held a party on April 27, which was followed shortly after by a drinking session at a nearby pub in Tokyo's Minato-ku. Here, the 18-year-old girl was forced to chug copious quantities of liquor with a high alcohol content.
She became almost senselessly drunk. Wada and his cronies then promised to take the girl outside for a breath of fresh air that would help make her feel better.
Instead, police say, they took her to a secluded elevator hall and all 11 took turns raping her.
Super Free associates are accused of using the identical method of plying women with potent alcoholic drinks until they become so drunk they barely know what they're doing and then raping them.
Rape trials for six of those connected with the group, including its boss Wada, have already begun in the Tokyo District Court, with members freely admitting that they regularly gang-raped women. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, Nov. 5, 2003)
A student from the University of Tokyo, widely regarded as Japan's top educational institution, has been arrested for his involvement in the gang rapes embroiling some of the country's best and brightest, police said.
Tomoyuki Takayama, 20, was arrested for rape after he allegedly took part with seven other men in the violent sexual assault on a female university student in a building stairwell. Takayama is the 14th man to be arrested in connection with the gang rapes allegedly organized by Super Free, a Waseda University student group.
Super Free members have admitted it was common for them to ply young women with so much alcohol they became senselessly drunk and easy targets for gang rapes.
Police said the seven men, including Shinichiro Wada, the 29-year-old former Waseda student who led Super Free, got the 18-year-old student drunk at a restaurant and then raped her.
Police established criminal cases based on complaints from three victims. The first arrest in June of Wada and four other Super Free members drew particular attention since they were all enrolled at prestigious universities.
Super Free organized huge parties at famous discos and clubs in Tokyo, attracting women who wanted to meet men from elite universities. (Mainichi and wire reports, Nov. 15, 2003)