Poison Woman, Revolutionary, Warrior Girl? Reconstructions and Representations of Abe Sada in the Film and Literature from the Twentieth Century

By: Andrea Mendoza '13

Advising Faculty: Sayumi Takahashi Harb

"In the winter of 2012, when I was a study-abroad student at Doshisha University in Kyoto, the reports on the Kijima Kanae Murder Trial seemed to flood nearly every space in Japan’s media outlets. Since 2009, investigators had suspected Kijima, a thirty-seven year old woman residing in Saitama, of murdering and financially extorting at least three men with whom she had been romantically and sexually involved. Then, in late 2011, officials had finally gathered enough information to take Kijima into custody and try her for her supposed murders.

During the course of my semester abroad, the Kijima Kanae Murder Trial became a subtle backdrop for my daily life. Nearly every day, her face appeared on the morning news program that I watched with my host mother, who often generously summarized the proceedings of the case as the media divulged them. For one-hundred days, the trial went on behind the closed doors of Japan’s recently established lay judge system while the press consistently published and reported on her life, crimes and speculations about the outcome of her trial. Finally, on April 13, 2012, the court sentenced Kijima to the death penalty.

What brought fame to Kijima and her case was neither that her trial had lasted for over three months (the longest term for a trial in the system) nor that she had received a death sentence; rather, it was the way in which the media characterized her and dramatized her actions that made her notorious." 

This honors thesis may be viewed in its entirety at Digital Commons @ Connecticut College. 

Related Fields: East Asian Studies