Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The Japan Times
MINISTRY SECRECY DRAWS SPOTLIGHT Even victimized divided on death penalty

Staff writer

Masaharu Harada was stunned when he found out that the man who murdered his younger brother had been executed on Dec. 27 in Nagoya.

He wondered why authorities felt they had to kill such a remorseful man.

Toshihiko Hasegawa was one of two convicts hanged in December. He was convicted of killing Harada's brother and two other people in a murder-for-insurance scheme between 1979 and 1983. His death sentence was finalized in 1993.

Harada had petitioned the Justice Ministry on Hasegawa's behalf to stay his execution. He believed letting Hasegawa live so he could express remorse was the only way for him to atone for his crime.

This issue about lack of transparency and the debate about capital punishment are important and something that should be part of a public debate, but one thing that I noticed was that the crime committed by this "remorseful man" was another "murder-for-insurance" crime. There have been a quite a few of these crimes and I'm beginning to wonder if it such crimes might be committed by people who are driven to this from debt. The Japanese prime interest rate are very low, but the consumer loan business booms with interest rates in the 15-20+ percent range. There has been a crackdown on loan sharking, but I think the interest rates for consumer loans is higher than the US for instance. Many of the taxi drivers I talk to are driving taxis because of loan/debt problems.

Mainichi Interactive
Indebted man charged for ex-lover's murder 2002.08.18

TSURUGA, Fukui -- A indebted man has been slapped with charges of murdering the former girlfriend he is detained for having illegally buried her body, police said Sunday.

Yoshiyuki Senda, 23, a resident of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, admitted to having stabbed Yoshiko Yamaguchi, 23, a company employee of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, whose charred body was found in Tsuruga, according to investigators.

"I owe about 1.1 million yen to eight consumer credit companies. I have no money (to repay my debts) because I lost my job in June. I murdered her to get her money," he was quoted as telling police.

It would be interesting to see the relationship between consumer loan interest rates and crime...

1 Comment

Had drinks with Furuya-san who is part of Shizuka Kamei's faction and a vice-minister of the Ministry for Economy Trade and Industry, Shizuka Kamei is the famous LDP politician who was the head of police. I always had the image that he was tough and very hardline, but when he supported our anti-National ID movement it made me wonder. Now he is heading the group against capital punishment. I do know he has a very good sense for important "issues" but he always suprises me on the issues that he chooses. When I mentioned this to Furuya-san he said Kamei-san was a "liberalist"... hmm... I have to ponder this.