Toyama man awarded damages after being cleared of rape charges


The Toyama District Court on Monday ordered the Toyama prefectural government to pay damages in the amount of 19.66 million to a man wrongfully accused of rape in 2002.

The court ruled that Hiroshi Yanagihara, 47, a former taxi driver in Himi City, Toyama Prefecture, was wrongfully arrested and convicted in 2002 on suspicion of raping two women, NTV reported.

In 2005, Yanagihara was released after police arrested another man who confessed to the crimes. In 2007, the court officially proclaimed Yanagihara's innocence in a retrial, but in 2009, Yanagihara filed a suit against the prefectural and central governments, as well as the police department responsible for his wrongful arrest on the grounds that they had forced him to provide a false testimony and committed other illegal actions during the investigation, NTV reported.

Yanagihara demanded 104.4 million yen in damage compensation for his wrongful arrest and time spent in prison for a crime he had not committed.

In handing down the court's ruling on Monday, the presiding judge said: "Due to illegal practices on behalf of the police department in charge of the case including but not limited to, forcing the defendant to provide a false confession, this court hereby finds the accused guilty. As such, the court demands reparations be paid by the department and prefecture in the amount of 19.66 million yen. The court however does not sustain the motion for reparations from the central government as there was no illegality in filing criminal charges at the time of the plaintiff's arrest."

Following the court's ruling Yanagihara told reporters, "I am just glad the court recognized the illegality of the police in charge of the investigation. I feel pretty good about the outcome."

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

forcing the defendant to provide a false confession Scary stuff, how many other have been locked up by such means?…… more than a few i would guess. good for him!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Les than 20 million yen compensation for five years in the nick plus ruined reputation. That's less than he'd have earned if he'd been out and working his taxi.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

23 days police detention with hours of unbroken questioning without access to a lawyer is the root of this supported by courts that will swallow any confession without question. The compensation is not much but I believe that such awards in Japan do not tend to be generous - if so it is nothing peculiar to this case.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

seems a bit cheap.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Victim of the State. Falsely accused, kangaroo court trial, and false imprisonment. Not only should he be compensated MUCH more, but said compensation should come from the actors in the crimes against him, AND those directly involved should be prosecuted for their crimes. Unless LEOs and prosecutors are held directly accountable for crimes against innocent citizens, the injustice in the system will continue to plague society.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What about to the two women who accused him of raping them...Obviously they couldn't positively identify their rapist. Are they just going to get off scot free?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Hopefully the news agencies will be required to say he is innocent. In the states at least, its guilty until proven innocent by a jury of journalists.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Those women should spend some time in jail. but then again it was the state that condemned this man so I dont know. Those women were victims too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And the police officers and prosecutors? Will charges be bought against them? Because if they've done this once then EVERY SINGLE case they've sent for prosecution is open to question. They could be responsible for ruining hundreds of lives. Someone who forces a confession doesn't do it once, they do it hundreds of times.

Time to start reviewing all their cases and releasing anyone solely convicted on a confession with no physical evidence.

Maybe then the Judges will stop accepting confessions and demand physical proof.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Well, at least it is something. And it may be a lump sum, tax free. I hope.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And the police officers and prosecutors? Will charges be bought against them?

Don't be silly, this is Japan. How many "iffy" convictions have there been every year, how many "officers and prosecutors" would need to be locked up?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Glad the guy got out, the settlement is pathetically low he is only getting about what he would have earned as a working stiff WTF!

And the cops & prosecutors, why the hell are they all not behind bars, the system here is way way beyond messed up.

This guy won but in effect received ZERO compensation for his ordeal, disgusting!!!

Like I always say, if you think your in trouble with the law, EVEN if you are innocent, head direct to airport & attempt to flee its your only hope, the system here is severely corrupt, a dictators dream Japan is!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't know how these police and prosecutors can sleep at night knowing they have put innocent men away./

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What about DNA testing in this case?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The police involved should be sacked. Jail should be considered too depending on the circumstances.

As for the women, did they know him? Did they see his face, hear his voice, etc? Did they pick him out from a lineup?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


I agree that blaming the victims is never a good thing, because they went through a lot too, but false accusations such as these should carry a very heavy penalty. This guy's life is effectively ruined. Imagine having to go to job interviews and trying to justify the years in prison.

Imagine trying to start a relationship with someone and having to tell her you were in jail for rape, or all of the shame that your family felt while trying to explain to their friends why you were in prison. Simply saying "but I was innocent" won't fly in this society. Once you're branded you've got to live with that shame forever. May as well get it tattooed across your forehead.

19 million yen is a spit in a bucket compared to what he will go through trying to live out the rest of life. All because two women and the Japanese justice system couldn't get it right...really shameful. Makes me wonder how many other innocent people this department sent to prison.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Failed democracy is what it is. Exists in all the supposed democratic countries. Jail time for all involved in framing him. What`s wrong with all the proud and caring individuals in the world ? allowing these types of situations to play out and not doing a damn thing about it??? Proof that societies are continuing to fail. Blame the voters for not standing up for this man. So pathetic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree that blaming the victims is never a good thing, because they went through a lot too,

Then don't blame the victims.

but false accusations such as these should carry a very heavy penalty.

The false accusations came from the police, not the women. The women were raped . . by someone else. The police went after Yanagihara based on the description they gave and forced him to confess to the crimes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Sioux Chef

The police don't just drag in any old joe off the street and tell the victims that they caught the rapist. He was identified and accused by the victims, and stood trial with them present. Obviously everyone involved in this case just wanted to find a red herring just to get it over with, and unfortunately Yanagihara fit the description too well.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )


You need to be more careful, NOWHERE in the blurb does it mention the women PICKED this guy!

So bottom line is we don't know how this poor guy got to be the fall guy!!

Given how prevalent forced confessions etc are in Japan, can you imagine the PRESSURE on rape victims if the keystones say they ""caught"" the perpetrator & then they were to ID the perp.

I can imagine there is also HUGE amount of pressure to go along with what ever the keystones say.

The "justice" system in Japan is a real NASTY piece of work & should be a national shame, these shams have been going on for far far too long, but there is no end in sight sadly.

Meanwhile victims are piling up justice nowhere to be seen!

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I was a victim of a hit and run a while back and I was able to get a good look at the guy who hit me as well as his license plate before he drove off.

A few months later, they called me into the police station and showed me photos of about 20 different people and three different vehicles, and asked me if any of them look familiar. I was able to pick out the person in the photo line up. Then a few weeks after that they called me in again to make a positive ID of the person who was standing behind a one way glass mirror. In my case, the guy who had hit me, made a confession prior to me identifying him.

After I positively ID'd the guy, the police told me that if I wasn't able recognize him EVEN THOUGH he has already confessed to doing it, they would have had to let him go. So the victim's word is gold in this case.

For any crimes, the victim HAS to be able to identify the suspect in person to make a positive ID, so in essence, yes you are "picking" the perpetrator. It could be that the police coaxed the victims into picking the suspect, but either way, the responsibility lies with the victim to be able to positively ID the perpetrator.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The horror to be behind bars innocently...glad he fought and won!! Lesson to learn here Mr. Law Enforcement !!

0 ( +0 / -0 )


your story is interesting & glad they caught the perp....

However that doesn't have anything to do with these rape cases & by your logic any rapist who were to wear a mask could never be convicted as no one could recognize them, clearly there are more aspects to cases than that, DNA etc

Bottom line the blurb doesn't provide enough info, but it is clear the cops & prosecutors should all be up on serious charges & doing jail time, but alas TIJ they will get away with their crimes.

Its probably a miracle the real rapist was caught, clearly the keystone would NOT have even questioned him as they already had the innocent man in jail

0 ( +0 / -0 )


by your logic any rapist who were to wear a mask could never be convicted as no one could recognize them, clearly there are more aspects to cases than that, DNA etc

Exactly...that's why DNA evidence is so critical in these cases. You just can't convict anyone you "think" might be the perpetrator. You have to have solid evidence by means of positive identification, DNA or finger print ID, or positive ID by an eye witness. You just can't bring in someone, make them confess and then tell the victim that their rapist was found and to tell them to just go along with it so that they can get a conviction. If the police have no evidence and the victims can't ID the suspect, then there is simply no case. Guilty or not guilty, the guy walks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

He was identified and accused by the victims, and stood trial with them present

"After both being raped in their home, two women called the police and provided a description of their attacker; one which the authorities felt the then-32-year-old Yanagihara seemed to fit.

According to the recent decision of Toyama District Court's Judge Asako Ata, the police conducting the interrogation at the time had asked Yanagihara the exact same question over and over until he gave the reply they wanted. They also only permitted him to answer their questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Yanagihara also accused the officers of using violence and intimidation tactics to force a confession out of him.

With the false confession made, Yanagihara was easily convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for both counts of rape, serving his sentence between 2002 and 2005."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites