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2020年08月18日 12:55

(English)Robbery and Murder at Kogane Miso

Robbery and Murder at Kogane Miso

 

The Case of Robbery and Murder at Kogane Miso and the Hakamata Incident
The Case of Robbery and Murder at Kogane Miso


On June 30, 1966, a case of murder and arson took place in the city of Shimizu, Shizuoka prefecture (currently Shimizu ward, Shizuoka city). The managing director of the Kogane Miso factory, producing Miso (soybean paste), Mr. Fujio Hashimoto and three members of his family were tragically killed and, moreover, his house was set on fire soon after that.


The scene of the crime was located about three kilometers away from Shimizu station, at the midpoint between Shimizu station and Okitsu station on the Tokaido Line. There were a row of old houses along the street. Mr. Hashimoto’s house was adjacent to the neighboring houses on both sides, having just a 30 centimeter gap between them. It was so close to them that the sound of wooden clogs walking on the earth floor in the next house could be heard. A clattering sound like planks of wood falling down was heard, between 1:35 a.m. and 1:40 a.m. on that night, when a neighbor got up to go to the bathroom. Otherwise, none of the neighbors heard any screaming or any other sounds while the crime was being committed that night. This remains something of a mystery.


Since that day was payday at the Miso factory, there was about 3,000,000 yen in cash and there were some bankbooks in Mr. Hashimoto’s house. However, this large sum of money was mostly left untouched and it seemed that only 80,000 yen was actually stolen. This is also something of an enigma.


The neighbors in the house on the opposite side saw smoke coming from the window of an upstairs room used for storing bedding from around 1:47a.m. till 1:50a.m. They intuitively become aware of a fire and went out of their house. A fire watchtower alarm started to sound and a farmer in the neighborhood called Shimizu Police Station around 2:10 a.m. and the fire was put out at about 2:30a.m.


Four burned dead bodies were found in the ruins. As a result of the autopsies on the bodies, it was judged to be a case of murder and arson. A total of 15 wounds, including stab and incised wounds, were found on the body of Mr. Fujio Hashimoto, the head of the family (aged 41) and burns were also identified all over his body. The cause of his death was presumed to be a hemorrhage. His wife, Mrs. Chieko Hashimoto (aged 38) had 6 stab and incised wounds in her back among other injuries, and the cause of her death was blood loss and burns. His second daughter, Ms. Fujiko Hashimoto (aged 17) had 9 stab wounds and burns all over her body, and the cause of her death was blood loss, with a pierced heart, and carbon monoxide poisoning. His oldest son, Mr. Masaichiro Hashimoto (aged 14) had 11 wounds and burns all over his body, and the cause of his death was blood loss with a pierced chest. A strong smell of gasoline still remained at the scene of the crime and it was such a cruel and horrible incident that everyone had to avert their eyes.


Even though four members of the family were stabbed to death all at once in such an atrocious way, none of the residents in the adjacent houses noticed the incident. Furthermore, arson was carried out in order to try and erase any trace of the crime. Such killings were skillfully completed in such a short time. We can’t help but think that the number of the criminals involved was not singular but plural and, besides this, the crime must have been committed by professional killers who were used to such dreadful scenes of bloodshed. This case was presumed to have been motivated by malice and to serve as an intimidation to other people.

 


The Hakamata Incident


Soon after the incident, the police did not have the slightest idea about “whether the criminal(s) were singular or plural,” “whether the crime was an inside or an outside job” and “whether it was perpetrated by a thief or someone with a grudge.” They were at a loss as to where to start and finally their suspicion fell on Mr. Iwao Hakamata, who was an employee at the factory at that time. All of the employees were from the local area, but he was the only outsider, from Hamamatsu. Moreover, he was looked down on as “an ex-boxer who had gone to the dogs” because he used be a former professional boxer and he was being treated like a bad youth. It was “a sense of discrimination in the village community” itself. Therefore, suspicion fell on Mr. Hakamata as the scapegoat. Under the order to have a strong conviction of that “Hakamata is the criminal”, which was handed down by the Shizuoka Prefectural Police, they started an unreasonable investigation to frame him. It is hard to believe, but this is the reality.


It is natural to investigate a suspect from both points of view, for instance, even if someone seems to be the criminal, we need to think that “this person may be the real criminal, but it is also possible that he may not be.” If you label someone a criminal from the beginning and just look for incriminating evidence or testimony against him, prejudice and self-righteousness will usually prevail. As a result, not only does making a false charge against an innocent person incriminate that person, but it also makes the irreparable mistake of failing to catch the real atrocious criminal.


The Shizuoka District Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted Mr. Hakamata on the charges of robbery, murder and arson. He was forced to confess to these crimes under a menacing investigation by the police, which was like torture but the police called it an interrogation. However, he kept on pleading his innocence at public trials in court.


On September 11, 1968, the Shizuoka District Court sentenced him to death. On May 18, 1976, a subsequent appeal to the Tokyo High Court was dismissed. On December 12, 1980, the death penalty was finalized by the Supreme Court. After being sentenced to death, he continued to plead his innocence by filing a petition for the opening of a retrial. On March 27, 2014, the Shizuoka District Court eventually made the historic decision of suspending his detention and his death sentence, both of which were implemented on the same day, and also ordered the opening of a retrial. And then on that day, he was released.


However, the prosecutors filed an immediate appeal against the order to open a retrial. The Tokyo High Court upheld their appeal and overturned the lower court’s ruling of granting a retrial, refusing to accept the DNA evidence which had been submitted. However, they were not able to overrule the decision of the suspension of his detention and his death sentence. The Defense Council immediately lodged a special appeal against this ruling to the Supreme Court and it has been under examination at the Court since then. Even though more than half a century has passed, the Incident has still not been settled.

 


Two Incidents


The name of the case was originally called “A case of robbery, murder and arson at Kogane Miso.” However, there is another incident about wrongful conviction called “the Hakamata Incident.” In fact, these are two different incidents.


One is about the extremely brutal crimes of robbery, murder and arson which took place at the Kogane Miso Factory. This concerns the four victims of the Hashimoto family. This is still an unsettled issue where the statute of limitations has already run out, because the investigative authorities, through their own mistakes, failed to capture the real criminal(s).


The other one is the Hakamata Incident. This is not such a light matter just exposing the faults and the errors made by the investigation agency, but exposing the abuse of their power and crimes committed by the State as a result of the runaway power of the justice system. In order to frame and incriminate an innocent citizen as a criminal, the police and the prosecutors calmly persisted in obtaining a forced confession by using torture and by forging, fabricating and concealing evidence. This is a serious violation of human rights by public servants. The victim is Mr. Hakamata who has been wrongfully convicted. This incident is still ongoing and will never be finished until the court acquits him in a retrial when Mr. Hakamata’s honor will be vindicated and reparation by the state will be implemented. Nevertheless, the scars which have been deeply engraved in Mr. Hakamata will remain with him all the same.
 

 

Judgement of Not Guilty!

 

Going on to the Supreme Court Stage,Bringing in a Speedy Judgement of Not Guilty!
An innocent death row inmate, serving a historically unprecedented length of imprisonment for 48 years (17,388 days), certified in the Guinness Book of World Records!


Mr. Iwao Hakamata is innocent. Moreover, he is the victim of a wrongful conviction. He was falsely accused, sentenced to death and forced to live in prison for 48 years since he was arrested at the age of 30. The imprisonment, with a length of 17,388 days was so historically cruel and unprecedented that it was certified in the Guinness Book of World Records. This fact is now attracting the world’s attention as a violation of human rights. It is nothing but a shameful stain on the national honor of Japan.


The Hakamata Incident is a case of wrongful conviction. He was indicted as a criminal based on a forced confession, that was like torture, conducted by the investigation agency i.e. the police and the prosecutors, who fabricated and concealed evidence. Then, at the first hearing, the Shizuoka District Court had him sentenced to death. Furthermore, the Tokyo High Court upheld this decision and, after that, the Supreme Court confirmed it. Therefore, this is nothing but a crime committed by the State!

 

Among the police, the prosecutors and the judges, there might be someone who kept Mr. Hakamata’s innocence a secret. Weren’t they guilty of failing to act with such willful negligence? His life took a turn for the worse and went through hell on earth for 48 years. He is the victim of a case of wrongful conviction who has been burdened with the incomparably cruel and severe punishment of being a death row inmate.


Mr. Hakamata said in a letter to his son which was sent from prison,
“Your Dad never killed anyone and it is the police who know about it the most and it is the judge who regrets it the most.”
The Hakamata Incident is a case of wrongful conviction and he is being  supported by the Defense Counsel for the Hakamata Incident which was organized by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. We are petitioning the court to open a retrial and to acquit him as soon as possible and we are also seeking support for Mr. Hakamata from all the people of Japan.

 


The decision of opening a retrial, the suspension of his detention and death sentence, for the first time in 48 years!
After an immediate appeal against the ruling by the prosecutors, their appeal was upheld by the Tokyo High Court, reversing the decision of opening of a retrial, but still allowing him to live outside prison.
Then, the Defense Counsel filed a special appeal to the Supreme Court.


On March 27, 2014, the Shizuoka District Court decided on opening a retrial and at the same time the suspension of his detention and his death sentence. Mr. Hakamata was released from prison on that day of the decision as if justice had just breathed life again.


However, the damage which he has suffered physically and mentally is serious, even though he has started to lead a free and peaceful life with his sister, Ms. Hideko Hakamata in his hometown.


His prison life, which was too long, as a death row inmate was like a daily torture beyond our imagination. Although five years have passed since he was released, his lacerated heart cannot be easily healed. Even now his sufferings from such a severe trial continue, and his social position as a death row inmate remains unchanged.


The Shizuoka District Public Prosecutor’s office filed an immediate appeal to the Tokyo High Court objecting to the last decision of the Shizuoka District Court. After five years’ examination, the Tokyo High Court has ruled out the opening of a retrial, while keeping the suspension of his detention and his death sentence unchanged.


Not to mention the legal world, but also the mass media and public opinion had mostly projected a judgment for a retrial being opened once again, but it was unbelievably reversed.


Even though it is obvious that the judgment of being guilty was handed down based on fabricated evidence, the judge did not allow an opening of a retrial with a reason like a trick meant to deceive a child. Who is this judge? Would he be a public prosecutor wearing the robe of a judge? Is a bulwark of human rights just an illusion? National anger against the judgement of the High Court filled the newspapers the next morning.


Naturally, his defense counsel immediately filed a special appeal to the Supreme Court and the stage has now moved into that Court. “The case of robbery, murder and arson at Kogane Miso” has turned into a blind alley and “the Hakamata Incident” has still not been settled for more than half a century.


Mr. Iwao Hakamata is the victim of a wrongful conviction who is still being stigmatized as a death row inmate. He was arrested at the age of 30 and had been forced to spend nearly half a century in prison and is now 83 years old. The pleading of his innocence not being accepted, being tormented by absolute solitude and the fear of the death sentence have all seriously damaged his mental health. In spite of this, he has continued to fight against the devil.


With Mr. Hakamata, we, the sovereign people of Japan, must stop the runaway power of the State and we must vindicate his honor, in order to come to the conclusion of settling “The Hakamata Incident” with justice!

 

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