Two articles printed in The Japan Times in less than a month show a very troubling feature of the Japanese criminal justice system.
In the March 5 front-page article “Minor denies slaying woman after Tokyo concert,” we read that the three professional and six lay judges are urged by prosecutors to consider the brutality of the crime and that the defendant has shown “no sign of remorse.”
In the Feb. 20 Kyodo article “Mom still struggles with son’s execution,” we read that Yukinori Matsuda, who was hanged in September for a home break-in and double murder in 2003, “did not show remorse and the [Kumamoto District] court had no choice but to impose capital punishment.”
Are we to assume that the level of remorse shown by the accused affects the sentence sought and the punishment received? Nothing other than legally obtained, empirical evidence should ever affect an investigation or a trial.
Emotion has no place in the courtroom.
As it currently stands, defendants appear trapped in a Catch-22 by the police and prosecution: Show remorse and receive a lighter sentence, but by showing remorse you all but admit guilt.
So, how does an innocent person who is wrongfully accused navigate this system? If the Govinda Prasad Mainali case is any indication, by spending a very long time behind bars.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.