• Kyodo


The Kumamoto District Court sentenced a 49-year-old company owner Monday to 31/2 years in prison for kidnapping a 7-year-old boy last November in Kumamoto.

The court found Seiji Okada, president of a building materials firm in Kumamoto, guilty of kidnapping for ransom, saying he committed the crime out of resentment toward a bank clerk who rejected his loan application.

Prosecutors had demanded a five-year prison sentence.

In handing down the ruling, Judge Yasutaka Harada said the crime was self-centered and cowardly. “It was also premeditated, but the defendant released the victim without harming him,” Harada said.

According to the court, Okada kidnapped Yutaro Kishi, a second-grader at Hanazono Elementary School in the city and the son of Masahiro Kishi, 39, acting head of Kyushu Bank’s Kumamoto branch, and demanded 30 million yen in ransom.

On the morning of Nov. 29, Okada persuaded Yutaro, who was heading to school at the time, to get into his car by telling him his father was ill. He then telephoned Kishi’s home and demanded the money, the court said.

Before he was able to obtain the money, Okada released the boy unharmed nearly seven hours after abducting him, according to the court. The boy returned home on foot.

During the trial, prosecutors pointed out the premeditated nature of Okada’s crime and said he was only intent on getting rich quickly.

Lawyers for Okada argued that the defendant’s actions were connected with Kishi’s decision to reject his application for a loan from Kyushu Bank.

Okada was millions of yen in debt stemming from the lingering economic slump and the bankruptcy of a client, police said earlier.

Police found the suspect by examining video footage taken at a convenience store where Okada and the boy had stopped.