Gifu girl’s killer gets 18-year term

The Gifu District Court on May 16 sentenced a 23-year-old man to 18 years in prison for murdering a 7-year-old girl in 1994 in Hashima, Gifu Prefecture.

Presiding Judge Tsuneo Sawada stated that Kiyoshi Yamada of Hashima, Gifu Prefecture, was of sound enough mind to be held responsible for the slaughter. The trial had focused on whether the defendant suffered from a personality disorder at the time of the offense.

Referring to the results of Yamada’s psychiatric evaluations, the judge said the “dissociation of personality can be seen, but it would not affect his ability to be held responsible.”

According to the court, Yamada approached Umi Fukuchi, a second grader, on April 7, 1994, took her to a nearby shrine and strangled her.

He then kept her body in his room until dumping it in a nearby park on April 9, 1994.

Prosecutors had earlier requested life imprisonment, but the judge said, “problems such as the environment in which Yamada grew up can be considered the reasons for his distorted personality and immaturity. That should also be considered for leniency.”

Asked by the judge if he wanted to say anything before the ruling, Yamada said,”I swear I would never commit this kind of crime again.”

After the ruling, Umi’s father, Tamotsu Fukuchi, told reporters he was not satisfied.

“I wanted him to be sentenced to death,” he said with tears in his eyes.