crime

Man gets 5 years for killing woman who ‘wanted to die’

17 Comments

The Tokyo District Court on Monday sentenced a 22-year-old man to five years in prison for killing a 36-year-old woman whom he claimed told him she wanted to die.

The court found Mizuki Kitajima, of Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, guilty of killing Hiromi Araki at the hotel in Ikebukuro on Sept 12, Sankei Shimbun reported. He strangled Araki sometime between 6 and 8 p.m. that day. Araki's body, with her ankles tied, was found inside a large plastic bag by a hotel employee.

Araki left her home in Tokyo's Koto Ward at around 3 p.m. after telling her family she was going to a hospital. Police investigations showed that Kitajima checked into the hotel room at around 3:40 p.m. Security camera footage showed a woman entering the room at 5:50 p.m. Kitajima then left the hotel by himself at 7:40 p.m., police said.

Kitajima told police he had been using Twitter, looking for people expressing a desire to commit suicide. He said Araki was such a person and that he met her for the first time on the day of her death.

Kitajima's defense argued that he was only helping Araki fulfill her wish to die. However, the presiding judge said that killing someone just because they wanted to die could not be seen as helping them.

The court heard that another time before he met Araki, Kitajima had been in contact with a teenage girl who expressed a wish to commit suicide. Kitajima and the girl arranged to meet up, but when he arrived at the appointed location, with a cord to strangle her, the girl never showed up and her SNS account had been suspended.

The National Police Agency has been struggling to come up with ways to deal with so-called suicide sites on social media since a notorious series of murders in 2017 when a man admitted to killing and dismembering nine people aged between 15 and 26 at his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture. All the victims had posted suicidal thoughts on Twitter before being approached by him online.

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17 Comments
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5 years for murder is rediculous, he should be in for a minimum of 20 yrs if not the ultimate.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

5 years for murder is rediculous, he should be in for a minimum of 20 yrs if not the ultimate.

totally agree. unbelievable :/ this is not serious. So anyone can kill someone just because that person asked to die, but the murderer only gets 5 years imprisoned? no way...

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It can’t be easy to strangle someone. Five years is a ridiculously short sentence.

Japan’s “justice” system at its finest.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Wow!

The article is short on details, but in any modern democracy, this could not be thought of as assisted-euthanasia or mercy killing.

For such it would require documented evidence spread over a long period of time, proving the real intent and desire of all concerned and existance of deep compassion. Witnesses to the growing circumstances would be essential. And then, it would still be classed as a murder of some degree and the perpetrator would be subject to strict sentencing in most cases.

The circumstances in this case appear to be very, very different.

He essentially "stalked" the internet for likely suicidal cases.

He met the woman only once - on the day she died and had no understanding of her background, history or mental state.

He killed her in a most brutal manner - strangulation. No going to sleep with pills with Bach playing.

He obviously gained significant satisfaction through his twisted act, esp considering it was not his first attempt, and his mental state should be an extremely troubling aspect of this whole sad & shocking case.

So the fact that he was sentenced to only 5 years makes a mockery of what constitutes the sanctity of life in a supposed decent society, where far, far less criminal actions can result in much heavier penalties.

Disturbing to me.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

5 years for a murder? What is wrong with Japanese law?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

People who want to end their lives should be able to do so with some sort of medical assistance after undergoing a battery of psychological tests. On the other hand, this guy sounds like a predator who trawled online for potential victims to satisfy his own urge to kill. If released, look for him to go back to his old ways.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Not really necessary to have the victim's name published. No extra information value.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Dr. Kevorkian would assist in suicides for people that were terminally ill or were in irreversible pain. With Kitajima, it is a thrill killing. He preys on mentally imbalanced people, gets a rush from taking their lives, then acts like he’s doing them a favor. Justice has not been served here, and most likely we’ll hear his name again some day.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is a total and complete disgrace. I honestly do not understand the amateurism of the Japanese legal system. 5 years for killing someone? Seriously? The court says "killing someone just because they wanted to die could not be seen as helping them", and then help the killer by giving a 5 year sentence. So is that what a human life is worth in Japan? 5 years?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There are some sick predators in Japanese society with extremely warped minds...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It seems a lot of the criticism so far is based on a fact assumption: That the Woman didn't really want to die.

What if we assume she did? How would that change everyone's calculus?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@kaz, it’s irrelevant. She was not in her mind and needed help. And he is a predatory ghoul.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Someone "wanting to die" needs help, not a deranged individual beside her who is willing and capable of murder.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

 All the victims had posted suicidal thoughts on Twitter before being approached by him online.

NOT TRUE @japantoday ! the one male casualty of the Zama killings, Shogo Nishinaka, a promising young bass player, was a boyfriend of another of shiraishi's victims who was murdered after confronting him at his home

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiToday 06:58 pm JST

It seems a lot of the criticism so far is based on a fact assumption: That the Woman didn't really want to die.

What if we assume she did? How would that change everyone's calculus?

Where did you get that idea from? Based on what?

It appears she most certainly wanted to die as noted by her apparent use of SMS to find a willing aid.

BUT, as I hinted at earlier, who believes they have the right to kill someone because they asked them to?

The Big questions are (1) the state of mind of the young woman who was probably extremely depressed, in despair and needed loving understanding and help, and (2) What kind of person searches the net looking for people to kill?

This is not about someones right to die, it's about murder by strangulation.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@browny1Today 10:03 pm JST

Where did you get that idea from? Based on what?

Such as:

For such it would require documented evidence spread over a long period of time, proving the real intent and desire of all concerned and existance of deep compassion. Witnesses to the growing circumstances would be essential.

List of procedural requirements aimed at increasing the probability her will to suicide is genuine, or

(1) the state of mind of the young woman who was probably extremely depressed, in despair and needed loving understanding and help

Even now, an apparent refusal to believe that it is a genuine feeling.

BUT, as I hinted at earlier, who believes they have the right to kill someone because they asked them to?

Let's reason it out. First, it is the woman's life, not anyone elses'. If you believe in autonomy and individuality, then you must acknowledge that it is at her disposal. She has consented to its loss, in fact asked someone to help with disposing it. The consent eliminates the idea there was a protected interest harmed ... ergo, valid.

If we accept that people can genuinely wish to suicide, then to disallow this is in itself to infringe on their autonomy. And if we allow suicide, then what is getting someone to help? And if it is valid to get someone to help, why is the person who stood up to the plate worthy of criticism?

Well ... the above is my opinion. Now for the opinion of Japanese Criminal Law:

Assisted suicide is a violation of Article 202, punishable for up to 7 years imprisonment. The reason for the penalty being lighter is the consent factor, and further from the viewpoint of the victim it is basically suicide (which is either non-criminal or non-culpable depending on the theorist) so it is clearly a less criminal act, and it is less exigible to demand the defendant to refuse, so there is a culpability cut.

As for why there is even a penalty at all, theories range from a limit on those who can dispose of life to its wielder, to a normative reduction in the victim's dispositive capacity based on estimates of such victims' average mental state (in essence, inserting a norm on grounds of disputing that it is genuine consent).

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Kazuaki - thank you for your comments.

I'm sorry, but I'm a little confused if you believed my comments reinforces your notions.

I was referencing mercy-killing assisted euthanasia which in all modern democracies where such a thing exists, strict protocols are in place to prevent the death against their will, the murder of people by those with other interests, intents or desires.

And yes you are correct - we don't know if she was suffering, in despair, lonely, terminally ill, poor, mentally unstable, lacking love, etc. She may have just decided in clear mind, with clear conscience, in a calm manner, today is my last day of living.

Why? Well it's my inalienable right in a free society to decide what I want to do. No one can take that right away. Today I want to die for the reason that being in a sound state and mind I just want to die. Maybe!!!

"...The consent eliminates the idea there was a protected interest harmed ... ergo, valid..."

You have no way of knowing if the consent was firstly made without initial duress and 2ndly does not prove a protected interest is unharmed. There is ample room for doubt. That is not a logical claim.

And re the official Japanese Law position. Well if that's the law we can't argue with it if it's on the books, but we can disagree with it. And the law seems to confirm my observation that a penalty exists based on the victims state of mind and other circumstances.

Which all brings me back to the critical point I addressed earlier on - that is the woman was killed by an unkown person who scoured the net looking for people to kill. That is an incontrovertible fact. One cannot be sure, but all indications are that the killer harbours some dark instinct that manifests as a desire to kill helpless people. Or you could be believe he is simply a "Good Samaritan" fulfilling peoples desires for no payment - a kind of tooth fairy doing community service.

IMO, a society travels a dangerous road, if it believes that such a person, while not welcomed, can be viewed as basically an auxiliary to death and consequently attracts a maximum punishment of only 7 years imprisonment - 5 in the said case.

This is the worry for me. Qualifying murder, esp such as this, leaves gaping holes in the well being of society.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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