Japan’s longest serving death row inmate, Iwao Hakamada, has maintained his innocence for 40 years in the four murders he was convicted of. His confession was coerced, Hakamada says.
The judge who wrote the death-sentence now agrees with him.
“My feelings about Mr. Hakamada remain the same – I believe he is innocent,” said Judge Norimichi Kumamoto. He has revealed that he argued for acquittal but two other judges outvoted him in their secret deliberations before handing down their ruling in 1968. As the junior judge, he was tasked with writing the death sentence order.
The case has brought unprecedented focus on Japan’s secretive criminal justice system, causing a flurry or questions in legal circles and about the death penalty in a country where it’s culturally correct not to question.
Amnesty International, Japanese boxers and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the American boxer imprisoned nearly 20 years for three murders before the convictions were overturned have all come out in Hakamada’s support.
The Japanese judicial system is now be picked through with a fine-tooth comb. Possible results may even include an overhaul and revision of the system itself.
Japanese Boxer May Face Retrial After 40 Years in Prison