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Acquitted man starts Net campaign

Kyodo

A man exonerated of a 1967 robbery-murder has started an Internet campaign calling on authorities to record the full interrogation process to prevent future wrongful convictions.

Shoji Sakurai, 66, who was acquitted in the so-called Fukawa Incident in Ibaraki Prefecture after a retrial, launched the initiative Monday via a petition website run by a U.S. company. The site can be accessed at change.org/stop-enzai.

Sakurai plans to present the signatures gathered for his petition to the justice minister and the judicial affairs committees of both chambers of the Diet.

“I have been campaigning for many years in Japan, but I feel limited. I want to appeal to the world so that the nation’s criminal justice system will be improved,” Sakurai said.

Also present were Toshikazu Sugaya, 66, who was exonerated in a 1990 murder case in Tochigi, and Sachio Kawabata, 67, who was coerced into falsely confessing to a 2003 vote-buying case in Kagoshima Prefecture. He was later fully cleared.

“I absolutely cannot forgive the fact that (they) arrested me for a crime I did not commit,” Sugaya said. “Some countries record the entire interrogation process. Why can’t Japan do the same?”