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Japanese society is trying to make a scapegoat of the 15-year-old suspect held in the killing of Jun Hase, according to panelists taking part in a discussion organized by the Social Democratic Party on July 8 to assess the social impact of the case.

Nobuto Hosaka, an SDP member who organized the discussion, held in Tokyo’s Nagatacho district, criticized recent media reports on the suspect. “Although there has been only one official comment from police since his arrest June 28, the media are reporting unreliable information,” he said. “Such an attitude in the media is extremely dangerous.”

Kenjiro Haitani, a well-known writer and a former teacher who once worked at an elementary school near where Hase was murdered in Kobe’s Suma Ward, called for extensive discussions of the social problems that may have triggered the incident. “Adults are responsible for the incident because they have created the current educational system,” he said. “Making the suspect a scapegoat is easy, but that doesn’t change a thing.”

Lawyer Mizuho Fukushima expressed concern about possible violation of the suspect’s human rights by the media and criticized recent moves to revise the Juvenile Code. “Simply making the law’s penalties stricter is as good as turning a blind eye to the real message of the case,” she said.

SDP leader Takako Doi said she was at a loss when she considered the case. She made no comments during the debate concerning revising the Juvenile Code.

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