• Kyodo


Prosecutors on Thursday demanded an 18-month prison sentence for former Kanagawa Police chief Motoo Watanabe, who was indicted for leading the organized coverup of drug abuse by a police officer, a case which led to one of Japan’s biggest police scandals.

In the trial at the Yokohama District Court, prosecutors also demanded one-year jail terms for Yoshimasa Hara, 48, former administration section chief; Masateru Tsunoda, 59, former police inspection section chief; Yosuke Nagayama, 58, former police inspection officer; and Yoshitaka Miyata, 60, former public life security section chief.

According to the indictment, Watanabe, 56, and the four others planned in mid-December 1996 to conceal amphetamine abuse by Yoshihisa Sakayori, 38, a former assistant inspector in the prefectural police, to preserve the “dignity” of the Kanagawa police.

During the first trial hearing in late February, the five men pleaded guilty to concealing Sakayori’s illegal drug use.

Sakayori was sentenced in January to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years, by the district court for using the drug. He did not appeal the ruling.

According to the indictment, Sakayori appeared at prefectural police headquarters on Dec. 13, 1996, a day after taking the stimulant, and confessed to using drugs.

Prosecutors said Watanabe instructed his subordinates to conceal the incident and dismissed Sakayori on the grounds of having an extramarital affair. He was dismissed on Dec. 17, 1996.

Although a urine sample submitted by Sakayori tested positive for drug use, police officials repeated the test until the result turned negative on Dec. 20, 1996.

Police launched an investigation into the coverup after the media reported it last September.

Kanagawa police arrested Sakayori on Nov. 4 and sent papers on nine former senior officials to prosecutors Nov. 13. Of the nine, the five defendants were indicted while charges were dropped against four others.