Japanese Cannibal

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can·ni·bal /ˈkanəb(ə)l/ noun

a person who eats the flesh of other human beings.

Issei Sagawa, a Japanese man who was also went by the name Pang, lived in Paris in 1981 where he murdered and cannibalized a woman.
Sagawa was born, April 26th, 1949to his very wealthy Japanese parents in the sixth largest city in Japan, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. He was the size of his father’s palm at birth and suffered from an infection of the small intestine immediately after his premature birth. 

Issei Sagawa later confessed that he first began his cannibalistic thoughts as early as the first grade, stating that he thought his male classmates’ thighs looked delicious. Since he was not a homosexual, he became quickly obsessed with Western Woman by the time he was in Junior High. Sagawa claimed that healthy tall women like Grace Kelly triggered his cannibalistic thoughts. Most men dreamed of sleeping with these beautiful women, but Issei dreamed of eating them. 

Early on, his desires were to simply taste their flesh, just chew on them a little. He had no thoughts over murder until later in life. Issei described this desire as a purely sexual desire. He did not have urges to eat humans when hungry, but only out of a sexual need. 

Renee Hartevelt

Though by the time he was 24, he followed beautiful, tall German women to her home in Tokyo and when she fell asleep, he broke into her apartment. His goal was to cannibalize her, he simply wanted a piece of her buttocks. As he attempted this the women awoke and shoved him away. He was arrested and the police charged him with attempted rape and he did not confess his true intentions.

When Sagawa turned 27 in 1977, he decided to pursue his Ph.D. in literature. This required him to move to France and study at Sorbonne in Paris. During his time in Paris, Sagawa brought prostitutes home nearly every night and would try to shoot them though he was unsuccessful, freezing up when trying to pull the trigger. 

In 1981, Issei Sagawa successfully fulfilled his cannibalistic fantasy at age 32. June 11th, 1981, he invited a fellow student from Sorbonne to dinner at his apartment. Renee Hartevelt believed she would be translating poetry for a class assignment and would have dinner with Sagawa. Though, Sagawa only had intentions of having her for dinner, literally. The two had spent quite a bit of time together over the recent weeks. Reading poetry, discussing art at local coffee shops. 

Later, he stated that he chose Renee because she was beautiful and healthy and wanted to absorb her essence and energy. Sagawa, had very low self esteem and thought himself to be ugly, too thin, short and very weak. He only stood 4ft. 9 in. tall., with a head that was quite large for his body, child sized hands and suffered from diabetes. Renee was a beautiful 25 year old student who stood 5ft. 10in. and full of life. 

Upon her arrival to his apartment she read poetry at his desk with her back to him. 

Sagawa shot her in the neck with a carbine rifle. He stated he passed out immediately after shooting her. When he awoke he was exhilarated at the fact that he had succeeded. He went on to have sex with her lifeless body and attempted to bite through her skin, but was unable to penetrate the human skin. Sagawa left her dead body in his apartment while he went out to buy a butcher knife. Sagawa carved her and ate various parts of her body, focusing heavily on the breasts and face, taking photos at various stages of eating her and stored some body parts in the refrigerator. He later took the body to be dumped in a lake in the Bois de Boulogne, but was caught in the act by French authorities. He had dismembered her body and stuffed them in two suitcases which he had planned to throw in the lake. 

Remember Sagawa’s wealthy parents? His father obtained a lawyer for his defense and after two long years a French judge found Sagawa to be legally insane and not fit to stand trial. He was ordered to a mental institution and to be held indefinitely. Due to the extraordinary publicity, France deported him to Japan where he was committed to the Matsuzawa Mental Hospital. 


Issei Sagawa 2013

Unfortunately, Japanese psychologists stated he was sane and simply a sexual predator. The case had been dropped in France and the documents were not released to Japan, so on August 12th, 1986, Issei Sagawa checked himself out of the mental hospital and returned to the public.


Sagawa has given many interviews over the years, describing in gruesome details how he carved Rene and the taste of the various parts of her body. 

From his release in 1986 through 1997 Sagawa was a guest speaker on various shows and wrote a book about the murder and another book regarding the Kobe child murders. Off and on he wrote reviews for Japanese restaurants that were featured in the magazine, “Spa” and almost employed by a french language school, but the employees rejected this. 

Sagawa’s wealthy parents died and he was unable to attend their funeral services. He went on to live in public housing and receive welfare. In 2013, Sagawa suffered a cerebral infarction causing permanent damage to his nervous system and has been under the care of his brother.

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