crime

Ladies & the Law: The 1968 patricide case that paved the road toward equality in Japan

20 Comments
By Vicki L Beyer

On the night of October 5, 1968, CA, murdered her father at their apartment in Tochigi Prefecture.

At the time CA was 29 years old and unmarried. Her father had first raped her when she was 14 and over the ensuing 15 years she had borne him five children and had six abortions. At her doctor’s suggestion (and her father’s approval), she was sterilized after the sixth abortion. Two of CA’s infants died shortly after birth. The other three, all daughters, were shown on her father’s family registry as his “illegitimate” children, since his wife, CA’s mother, had divorced him and taken their other children away when she realized what was going on.

In spite of this situation, CA had met a man at her workplace who wanted to marry her. When her father learned of this, he had locked her in the house and abused her in various ways for a period of 10 days. On the 10th day, when he grabbed for her in a drunken state, she fought him off, managed to overpower him, and strangled him.

These salacious facts have never been in doubt. A murder was committed. And both the law and society expect the murderer to pay. The question was what an appropriate penalty would be given the circumstances.

Click here to read more.

Savvy Tokyo's new series “Ladies And The Law” digs back in time tracing the catalysts for changes in Japanese laws that directly or indirectly affect women and their families. In each of these court cases, you will find a story, at times shocking, at times uncomfortable to discuss, and at times painful to read. But in all cases, there has been a woman whose trial has caused a change for many other women in Japan. If you have a topic you would like us to cover through a real court case, contact us at editorial@gplusmedia.com

© Savvy Tokyo

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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@M3M3

As long as the minimum sentence could be reduced enough so the lady wouldn't have had to go to prison, any parricide law would have been ok. That the sentence couldn't be suspended was the main issue of the case.

The minimum for s 200 was life imprisonment so it would have to be something below that i.e. a prison term.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was everyone Japanese in this case?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Nasubi

I would like to point out most of the justices had no problem with there being a harsher punishment if you murder a parent.

But did they really have no problem with the idea of harsher penalties or was it a healthy respect for the separation of powers? Remember that the only issue before the court was whether Article 200, as written, was unconstitutional. It was not whether parricide laws in general are inherently unconstitutional and completely off limits for the Diet to ever legislate on. If they had declared that, it would have been judicial overreach.

I agree that the judgement leaves the door open to the possibility of the Diet re-drafting a brilliant new parricide law that is somehow reasonable and constitutional in ways that we cannot even imagine, but I doubt most of the judges honestly believed that this could ever be done. The Diet obviously hasn't made a second attempt.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

For those who did not read the extended article, the Supreme Court found that the rule allowing for a harsher penalty for murdering a parent was no longer valid, sentenced CA to 2 and a half years for the act that she admitted to, and then suspended the sentence.

What a terrible, terrible story. So, the man's wife left him with their children when she found out what he was doing, but did not stop him from still doing it. Such a tragedy. I can't help but wonder what the rest of her life has been like. I hope she lived well after all of this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That man deserved to die, and that woman deserved her revenge

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@M3M3

I would like to point out most of the justices had no problem with there being a harsher punishment if you murder a parent.

Btw there is an English translation of the judgement justtices' opinions searchable on the Supreme Court website. Very interesting, one mentions Confucianism.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wish I didn’t read this.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

That poor woman does not deserve a day in prison. What she went through was 15 years of hell on earth.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Very interesting story.

The Supreme Court decision was handed down nearly five years after the murder. During those five years, CA had endured arrest, exoneration in her first trial, conviction on appeal, and the final appeal to the Supreme Court. And this following 15 years of abuse by her father. Most people would agree, she had been punished enough.

Well I certainly don't and actually find the term 'enough' particularly offensive & inappropriate. CA's the victim here and her father ruined her life. Imo, a history of abuse should -at the very least- ALWAYS been considered as a mitigating factor regardless of gender or relationship to the offender.

As an aside, I don't think the Justice system would have been more/less lenient if Ca were a boy tbh. Imo, the issue at stake here is parricide (especially patricide) in a patriarchal/conservative society not 'gender inequality' per se.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm confused as to how this abuse was allowed to go on for so long.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Maria

Gosh, M3x3 - what do you consider the be the appropriate penalty for the victim of decades of physical, sexual and mental abuse and imprisonment, who finally kills her abuser?

Oh, I'd agree that it should be the absolute minimum possible, if anything at all. But the point is just that whatever the appropriate penalty was, it should have been determined under article 199 (as the supreme court eventually decided) and not the harsher penalty under article 200 that existed simply because the victim was a parent and parents were given special status under the law over and above any other ordinary victim.

@Alfie

Thanks for the pointless insult. Goodbye.

Likewise.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Gosh, M3x3 - what do you consider the be the appropriate penalty for the victim of decades of physical, sexual and mental abuse and imprisonment, who finally kills her abuser?

Personally, I think she has served her time, though the cursed doctors who signed off on and performed her sterilization have not.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Alfie Noakes

It's an article written by a law professor about a legal principle that is relevant even in the modern day. The facts of the murder in 1968 are peripheral to the point the author is making.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Unfortunately more recently the Supreme Court has not been as aggressive at using Article 14 to hold blatantly sexist provisions of the Civil Code unconstitutional.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's quite remarkable how the far right commenters on this site manage to drag modern day "racially and religiously aggravated hate crimes" into a horrific story about a Japanese murder in 1968.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

This is one of the most famous constitutional cases in Japan standing for the principle of equality under the law and that punishment shouldn't be based on the social status of the victim. If someone murders a parent (or even the emperor), the law should obviously punish them just as if they had killed anyone else.

It's also interesting to reflect on how Japan has maintained this principle but many western countries have slowly begun to chip away at it with the introduction of racially and religiously aggravated hate crimes. The range of crimes you might commit against one group of victims is different from another group of victims, just like the old article 200 in Japan.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

That poor woman, and her poor daughters. Amazing if they have managed to continue living mostly regular lives. I hope they have been doing.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Fascinating. Thank you.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Patriarchy is thriving in Japan.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

A truly sad story but please don't go so far as to even suggest that there is true "equality" between the sexes here in Japan

11 ( +13 / -2 )

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