A tale of two untimely deaths

William Andrews’ Nov. 19 article “Wife fights decades-long battle to free activist leader,” underscores the typical treatment of a death, or a human life, because a riot police member trumps a citizen. On the one hand a poor policeman, dispatched to Shibuya from Niigata was fatally set afire by demonstrators in 1971. On the other hand, about 11 years earlier, a student wearing a white blouse and blue slacks died on June 15 from chest and brain injuries, according to a police autopsy report.

Officer Tsuneo Nakamura was killed in the line of duty while student Michiko Kamba died while expressing her opposition to the Japan-U.S. security treaty. An order was issued to arrest seven radical activists in relation to the 21-year-old cop’s death. In contrast, no one was held to account for the 22-year-old student’s case because the police claimed that she was killed in an “accident.”

In a similar manner, Fumiaki Hoshino, convicted of killing a cop, “has been transferred” from a Tokyo to Shikoku Island prisons and his wife’s letters are censored. Meanwhile, during their annual commemorations of her death, Kamba’s family have to suffer the amplified shouting of rightists despite the presence of many policemen near the Diet.

I feel embarrassed to confess that I have come to know belatedly of the Hoshinos’ predicament, which was the result of multiple decisions by Japanese justices. Those judicial branch government employees should be strongly criticized for their dependence on the executive branch counterparts — typified by a personnel exchange program between both branches of about 60 people per year. They have yet to show conscience, as the Constitution’s Article 76, paragraph 3 states: “All judges must be independent in the exercise of their conscience and shall be bound only by this Constitution and the laws.”

I laud Andrews for his insightful article, which suggests that Japanese Cabinets increasingly share the same values with Chinese leaders as both appoint judges without material scrutiny. No wonder a constitutional review takes place here every eight years — only twice the interval of the International Olympics — as if politics in Japanese were a festival event — matsuri-goto.

FUMIO SAKURAGI
Tokyo

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.