HIROSHIMA – A psychiatrist who examined the teenager arrested over the May 3-4 bus hijacking, in which one person was killed, has told prosecutors he could not determine whether the boy is mentally fit to be held criminally liable, investigative authorities said Wednesday.
The doctor in Hiroshima who recently performed summary psychiatric tests on the 17-year-old at the request of the Hiroshima District Public Prosecutor’s Office said he cannot tell if the boy was telling him the truth during the short interviews, according to the prosecutors.
The doctor’s analysis may undermine the prosecutors’ assertions that the boy, judging from his behavior during the 15-hour ordeal and the consistency of his testimony since his arrest, has at least the minimum mental capacity to understand his criminal responsibility.
Despite the doctor’s findings, the prosecutor’s office plans to forgo a full analysis of the boy’s mental state and send his case to a local family court on June 5 with the recommendation that he be tried in a criminal court.
The boy’s lawyers say they plan to call for a formal psychiatric analysis once he is sent to family court.
According to the sources, the Hiroshima doctor performed the summary test in three interview sessions with the boy between last Wednesday and Monday.
In a report submitted to prosecutors, the psychiatrist said he cannot say for sure that the boy has full mental capacity, but he was not able to reach a definitive conclusion because the testing period was too short.
“A full test may prove that he is not mentally sound,” and therefore not criminally liable, he said in the report.
Youth crime council
Alarmed by a series of recent serious crimes committed by teenagers, an Education Ministry council held its first meeting Wednesday to study measures to curb the increasing incidence of juvenile crime.
The council’s 35 members include experts on education and psychology, as well as officials of the National Police Agency, the Health and Welfare Ministry and the Justice Ministry.
The council will analyze four cases, including that of a 17-year-old boy who was arrested May 4 in connection with the hijacking of a bus in Kyushu and the slaying of a female passenger, and another involving a 17-year-old boy from Aichi Prefecture who allegedly stabbed to death a 64-year-old woman who lived near his school on May 1.
The council will also study the case of 10 teens in Nagoya who are believed to have extorted 50 million yen from a classmate, and another in which a 21-year-old man stabbed to death a 7-year-old boy at a Kyoto elementary school, Education Ministry officials said.
The council is expected to compile a report by next March after questioning officials and teachers of the schools attended by the youths, as well as members of each school’s board of education.
The ministry set up a similar council after the murder of an 11-year-old Kobe boy in 1997. A 14-year-old boy was arrested in June 1997 for killing and decapitating the victim.
The previous council had called for promoting cooperation between schools and police, and urged teachers and school counselors to share information on students in order to detect problematic student behavior early and take preventive measures.
The current council will examine whether such measures had been taken at the schools the juvenile offenders attended and discuss what additional measures should be taken, the officials said.
The Education Ministry has asked the nation’s public and private universities not to rely on cram schools to contribute questions for university entrance exams due to fears that the questions could be leaked.
The directive is in response to the disclosure in March by a major cram school, Nagoya-based Kawaijuku, that it had been contracted by some universities to draw up questions for their entrance exams.
In a circulated notice, the ministry effectively bars universities from relying on outsiders to contribute to exams.
“As for obtaining the cooperation of outside experts, (universities) need to use discretion from the view of precision, neutrality and fairness,” it says.