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...


Seiji Ozawa conducted a performance of Giacomo Puccini's Madame Buttefly as part of the 30th anniversary. I was completely tired so I admit I nodded off a few time at the first half, but generally it was great. It was a Chinese chorus, Japanese orchestra, Japanese conductor and a global team of performers. The curtain call involved former Prime Minister of Japan Mori going on stage with everyone else and taking pictures together. I guess Mr. Mori was here because Koizumi-san, who was a co-organizer of the event got un-invited because he went to Yasukuni Shrine and honored the war dead. That still seems pretty stupid to me. Are a few right wingers more important than our relationship with China? I guess to the LPDLDP they are... Anyway...

tvcamera_thumb.jpg mizmakikotv_thumb.jpg tvgroup_thumb.jpg

The town hall styled panel discussions were held in the military guarded studios of the national TV station CCTV. Narita is much more fortified, but the guards at CCTV stood at attention much better than the guard at Narita...

The first panel was three Chinese whose names I don't have and Okuda-san of Toyota, Miyauchi-san of Orix and Idei-san of Sony from the Japanese side. The panelists for the second panel had to sit on stage but not say anything for 2.5 hours. Several of of our panelists fell asleep. I closed my eyes briefly, but didn't sleep, and at least I didn't snore. Idei-san was great and overall it was good, but a bit bland and the translation was bad. There was kind of a weird anti-Japanese feeling, but it might have just been me... The news caster who was the moderator asked the audience to smile more when they clapped and made us practice. It was kind of... strange. The Chinese side always clapped when anyone praised China. Also, when the Chinese audience were asked to raise their hand if they liked Japanese food, only two of them raised their hand. Then the moderator interviewed one of them about why she didn't like Japanese food. I bet that if we apologized sincerely instead of denying the mass murders, it would get a lot better. As the war vetrans die, it's really our last chance...

As I reported earlier, Yanai-san of Pia ended up taking Mari Matsunaga's place on our panel and Iemoto-san, a 20 year old entrepreneur from Japan was also on the panel with us. The Chinese side was James Ding of AsiaInfo, Victor Want of GWcom Inc. and the CEO of Alibaba China. Victor and James both went to Stanford so at lunch I got to talk to them in English. They were great. I got to get my comments in although I'm not sure how they went over in the translation. Idei-san who also joined our session had some great things to say.

I thought this was going to be live, but it looks like they will edit it before they broadcast it. It will be broadcast nationwide in China and on Channel 1 in Japan on NHK. I wonder what's going to happen in the edit.

As usual, my blurb about how we should unite forces and fight Microsoft together by creating a lot of open source code got a good response. ;-)

Mizuka and Makiko-san were sitting in the audience...

I got to sit next to Idei-san in the bus and we had a good chat. I had heard a rumor that the design center of Sony had been shut down. I asked him about it. He said, "which one? We haven't shut down a design center..." So I guess that was a bad rumor. We talked a lot about the future of Sony, Japan and Sony's strategy vis a vis ventures. He think that partnerships with venture businesses can help Sony be more innovative. That's great news for me/us!

I started this morning with a Motorcade. There was a super-VIP motorcade with lots of flashing lights and fancy police cars and a mini-VIP motorcade that I was in. There was one car, translator and driver per person, but the cars were a bit dumpier and no armed guards. They were fairly organized. All of the cars had their hazard lights on when driving and this warned other drivers not to cut into the motorcade. Seems pretty efficient. Never seen this before. They must do motorcades a lot in Beijing.

Someone (was it you Stephanie?) had a theory that it was the motorcades that slowed down Koizumi. The idea was that Koizumi was ready to do a bomb dive into the LDP, but then he started getting used to the motorcades. Something about motorcades makes you feel important. Jets... Motorcades... Something about vehicular excessiveness that drags you into the dark side... I watched "Lorg of the Rings" on the plane. Something like that...

So it's boarding time, but they told me to sit tight in the lounge. At least there are plugs and a view and diet coke. Some of the guests were complaining that the view and plugs are in only the smoking room... Oops. BUSTED... ;-)

"ANA regrets to announce that flight 955 will be slightly delayed for preparation. The new departure time will be announced as soon as it is available."

I can hear someone's voice over someone's radio giving much more detailed information about what is going on. I wonder if they sell radios in Akihabara to listen to the control tower. That would be extremely useful about now. I see some planes arriving though so I guess the landing/takeoff freeze is off. But the sky continues to get uglier.

I see a plane taking off at a very steep angle. Probably in a hurry to get through the clouds... I remember Martin boasting about how quickly his Lear jet could climb and how he could avoid turbulence...