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Believing the unbelievable causes goshin fears

by Michael Hoffman

The fat, ungainly kensatsukan (検察官, prosecutor) rises and, without speaking, niramu (にらむ, glares at) the hikokunin (被告人, defendant). For a fleeting instant the chinmoku (沈黙, silence) in the hōtei (法廷, courtroom) is so deep that when Reiko Keyes, one of the six saibanin (裁判員, lay judges), inadvertently coughs slightly, the saibanin next to her starts almost as if a bomb has gone off.

Nikunde ita (憎んでいた, You hated her). Correct?”

If the prosecutor hoped to kowagaraseru (怖がらせる, intimidate) the young defendant, he miscalculated — the hikokunin meets his gaze coolly enough.

“Correct.”

“And you wanted to kill her. Correct?”

“Correct.”

“But you didn’t kill her. You purchased a knife, went to the place where you knew she’d be, intending to stab her to death — and yet you arrived to find her already dead! Already stabbed to death! Is this what you want us to believe?”

Taking no notice of the prosecutor’s hiniku na kuchō (皮肉な口調, sarcastic tone), the young man replies reisei ni teinei ni (冷静に丁寧に, calmly and politely), “Yes, sir. That is what I ask the court to believe.”

Sonna bakana koto! (そんなばかなこと, Something as stupid as that!).”

The young man kata wo subomeru (肩をすぼめる, shrugs) and damaru (黙る, says nothing).

“Where’s the knife?”

Sutemashita (捨てました, I threw it away).”

“Why?”

Yoku wakarimasen (よくわかりません, I’m not sure).”

“Why throw away a clean knife that would muzai wo shōmei suru (無罪を証明する, prove your innocence)?”

“I told you — I’m not sure.”

“Where did you throw it?”

“Into the sea at Kamakura.”

Waza waza Kamakura ni itta (わざわざ鎌倉に行った, You made a special trip to Kamakura) to throw a clean, unused, unbloodied, perfectly innocent knife into the sea? I ask why and you say, ‘よくわかりません’ — and expect that to be believed?”

Nani mo kitai shite imasen (何も期待していません, I expect nothing).”

Ijō desu (以上です, No further questions).”

Tazawa saibanchō(田沢裁判長, Chief Judge Tazawa) addresses the lay judges: “Saibansho kara hikokunin ni shitsumon shimasu (裁判所から被告人に質問します, The judges may now question the defendant). Saibanin kara mo nani ka areba dōzo shitsumon shite kudasai (裁判員からも何かあればどうぞ質問してください, Lay judges, too — if there is anything on your minds, please ask).”

Reiko and one other saibanin raise their hands. The other is the somewhat oroka na (おろかな, flaky) young man with whom Reiko had come into the courtroom on the first day of the trial. Judge Tazawa acknowledges the young man. “Dōzo (どうぞ, Go ahead).”

“I only wanted to ask… Kamisama wo shinjimasu ka (神様を信じますか, Do you believe in God)?”

The prosecutor leaps to his feet as fast as his bulk allows. “Igi ari (異議あり, Objection)! Futekisetsu (不適切, Irrelevant)!”

Mitomemasu (認めます, Sustained),” says Tazawa, with a slight frown. “Hoka no shitsumon ga arimasu deshō ka (ほかの質問がありますでしょうか, Are there any other questions)?”

Reiko starts to raise her hand, then suddenly thinks better of it. Judge Tazawa looks questioningly at her. She shakes her head. Damatteiru hō ga ii (黙っているほうがいい, Better to say nothing), she thinks to herself.

“I was going to ask him,” she confides to Stuart that night after the children and her mother are in bed, “if he wants to be found guilty — because I think he does.”

“Well, there are psychological twists like that of course — but in that case why didn’t he yūzai wo mitomeru (有罪を認める, plead guilty)?”

“I don’t know. I don’t understand him. His story is unbelievable. So why do I believe it? Am I crazy? I seem to be the only one who thinks he’s muzai(無罪, not guilty). I’m afraid yūzai no hanketsu ga kudaru (有罪の判決が下る, he will be found guilty). And Stuart, if he is, it will be a dreadful goshin (誤審, miscarriage of justice)!”

“Hmm.”

He’d hoped to raise the issue of Peter’s sudden change of heart, his not wanting to Amerika ni ryūgaku suru (アメリカに留学する, go to school in the United States) after all because he had koi ni ochita (恋に落ちた, fallen in love) of all things — at 14! But with Reiko as kokoro wo ubawararete iru (心を奪われている, preoccupied) as she was, it hardly seemed the moment. But then, when was the moment?