Japan Today

Man freed from death row after 48 years will require 6 months in hospital, says sister


A man believed to be the world’s longest-serving death row inmate, who walked free from jail on Thursday after decades in solitary confinement, will require hospital treatment for about six months, his sister said Saturday.

An unsteady-looking Iwao Hakamada, 78, emerged from the Tokyo prison with his campaigning sister after Shizuoka District Court ordered a fresh trial over the grisly 1966 murder of his boss and the man’s family.

On Friday, he underwent a medical check-up, but his sister Hideko, 81, said the years of confinement had left her brother mentally and physically unstable, TBS reported. She said he was having trouble making conversation and simple decisions.

After his arrest, Hakamada initially denied accusations that he robbed and killed his boss, the man’s wife and their two children before setting their house ablaze.

But the former boxer, who worked for a bean-paste maker, later confessed following what he subsequently claimed was a brutal police interrogation that included beatings.

He retracted his confession, but to no avail, and the supreme court confirmed his death sentence in 1980.

Prosecutors and courts had used blood-stained clothes, which only emerged a year after the crime and his arrest, as key evidence to convict Hakamada.

The clothes did not fit him, his supporters said. The blood stains appeared too vivid for evidence that was discovered so long after the crime. Later DNA tests found no link between Hakamada, the clothes and the blood stains, his supporters said.

But Hakamada remained in solitary confinement on death row, regardless.

© Japan Today/AFP

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Poor buggar. Victim of the system and it's now almost too late to regain his health.

9 ( +9 / -0 )


4 ( +5 / -1 )

The ineffectiveness of the Japanese criminal justice system has failed here. This individual should be compensated for 40+ years of his life that he was held behind bars on only circumstantial evidence.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

In this case the Japanese system of so-called justice was no better than an organized crime syndicate.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Probably the real culprit and cops are now living in Hades.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wonder who is footing the hospital bill? Another gross injustice!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sickening stories like this make me totally re-think the characteristics of Japan.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Medieval system

6 ( +9 / -3 )

If Mr. Hakamada did kill those who the system say he killed and they still can not prove that this man committed the crime they should pay for every minute of his life that he has not been able to enjoy. No one should have to suffer in such an inhumane way. To be put on death row this long and not be put to death shows the system had doubts if not they would have sent Mr. Hakamada to the gallows years ago.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Something else - this staggering, appalling display of incompetence, injustice and cruelty has been taxpayer funded for half a century. We're actually paying for the police, courts and prisons to do this to people.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Without doubt, one of the worst, and most corrupt, legal systems in the developed world. And how many more people are incarcerated, or on death row, because of false confessions ?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Japan at its worst.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Wonder who is footing the hospital bill? Another gross injustice!

Since Hakamada is 78, he'll be able to receive treatment at the geriatric rate of 10% out of pocket from the total costs, thanks to the national health insurance scheme. What were you worried about?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Only full and detailed independent (judge-led) public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this poor man's incarceration, will rebuilding confidence in the judicial system.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It wonders me how the government and police will pay back the lost life of this man, which they have ruined due to their corruption.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

zichi The case against him must now be dropped and the police and public prosecutor needs to beg and apologise to him, his family and also the family of the victims because someone got away with murder, four of them

Yes in full public view, all the perpetrators (that remain alive) must be held fully accountable, there is clear malfeasance, gross misconduct (criminal) in public office.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@itsonlyrocknroll, No one will be held fully accountable.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A Japanese friend of mine was reading the news and he tells me that on a daily basis they would take this individual out of his cell down to the gallows to practice hanging him kind of like pretending to hang him. If this is true that would have to play is serious psychological role and his state of mind at this point. It's nothing short of someone holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger just to find out this chamber is empty. This is got to the one of the most inhumane ways to treat a person whether or not he or she is truly convicted of a crime or not and whether he or she is actually guilty or not this should not be allowed.

If this it is in fact true I think the people running the prison should be held accountable for this disgusting behavior!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Words cannot express the anger I feel when reading this case.

While the bits about people needing to be made accountable for this... mess are a given and completely undisputable, I am left wondering if there is anything that us bystanders can do to at least TRY to make this man's life better.

I am left wondering even if we somehow DO make the people accountable pay for their incompetence, the damage may be and most likely so ingrained into this man that he may end up dying as a tortured wreck.

This has got to be almost at the top of the list of the greatest travesties of justice committed in history, not just in Japan, but anywhere in the world.

Yet in all this, I am amazed and astounded that he is still alive today. Hakamada-san, I pray that you may at least be able to well, live again, somehow. And smile, to boot.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Kapuna ', I am beginning to get the picture 'See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil'

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"But Hakamada remained in solitary confinement on death row, regardless."

Ah, the Japanese justice system at its finest! And who will be held accountable for this man's almost complete loss of life? Will it be simply "regrettable" and fobbed off on already dead judges and police? How can you honestly compensate the man unless the system is ENTIRELY changed? At 78 what can you give him otherwise?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@ zichi I do understand your skepticism. However he was just reading from a newspaper...and I just repeated here what he said it said....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What was the newspaper and what page and date?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My aunt just recited the case of Atsuko Muraki In 2010....An overhaul is long overdue ..

Death penalty: Systemic failings add to risk of wrongful executions


2 ( +2 / -0 )

The family should sue the hell out of the government in behalf of him.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We cannot stop aggressive and ambitious prosecutors from "getting" anybody they can pin a crime on, guilty or not.

We can only make them serve out the sentences they imposed on others.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

'Since I had convicted him, I felt extremely guilty that I had to sentence an innocent man. I still do, to this day.'

'Looking at the evidence, there was almost nothing but the confession, and that had been taken under intense interrogation.'

'I was unable to convince the other two judges that Hakamada was not guilty, so I had to sentence him.' 'I could not bear the burden of conscience so six months later I had to resign as a judge.'

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I wish I had spoken up more back then.”

Kumamoto Norimichi, Hakamada's judge

Speaking on Thursday, ill from cancer, as he appeared on national TV. For Norimichi san this unbearable guilt seems to have consumed him completely.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How many more innocents has the justice system done this too? Probably too many to count. I hope Hakamada-san will find some peace in his late life. =(

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Norimichi san is a honorable man.

I am at a loss as to why the public at large are not provided with information on the criteria the justice minister uses in selecting prisoners on death-row for execution, and particularly the involvement of lay judges.

Justice Minister Keiko Chiba was reported to have commissioned a study group associated to the Justice Ministry opening discussions into the role capital punish directly affects society in general. Apparently no executions took place between July 2010 and March 2012. I gather this was under a DPJ government. Inmates on death row are given just hours notice to settle one thoughts and affairs before being led to the gallows, and relatives are not notified until the prisoners are already deceased.

Justice Minister Keiko Chiba insists opinion polls put support for capital punishment at over 80% although I cannot find any evidence to support this statement. Amnesty states inmates sentenced to hang are regularly driven insane Japan and the US are the only G7 countries that retain capital punishment. I gleam from Justice Minister Keiko Chiba assertions that capital punishment is justified under the quoted statistical evidence and the ongoing debate surrounding deterrence and retribution.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sigh... 99.9% conviction rate. Fabricated evidence and forced confessions + complacent judge = innocent man being on death row for 48 years.

I guess nationalists like n-boy is come out and defend that the 99.9% conviction rate is because they only go after "slam dunk case". Japanese people can't possibly make mistakes. Japan never has any flaws. Well this man has certainly paid for the Japanese people's arrogance and intolerance of accepting any criticism.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I wonder how outraged the public is about this event? The sad reality is that until people start speaking out against the current justice system instead of just accepting what they are told by the media and the government , it will never change.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only fully citied paper on the subject still on Westminster archive and available to view is:.


scroll down to page 8 ...

It a heavy weight so to save time...

*Article 31 of the Japanese Constitution states: ‘no person shall be deprived of life or liberty, nor shall any other criminal penalty be imposed, except according to procedure established by law.’ In other words, it is possible to argue that this provision allows taking away life if prescribed by law, and this argument is used by retentionists to support the constitutionality of the death penalty. However, Article 36 states: the infliction of torture by any public officer and cruel punishments are absolutely forbidden. Abolitionists argue that the death penalty is unconstitutional because it is a cruel punishment under Article 36.

The key question is what constitutes a cruel punishment under Article 36, and whether hanging comes under this prohibition.*


Friends and family sympathise but don't dwell on the subject.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

99.9% conviction rate... An innocent man being on the death row for 48 years. I wonder if people like n-boy will still doggedly and blindly defend the 99.9% conviction rate! and I wonder if they're still not repentant. Their denials caused this man to be imprisoned for 48 years.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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