Appeal over 'Sayama case' dismissed

The Tokyo High Court has dismissed a formal objection against its 1999 decision to deny a retrial for a man convicted of murdering a high school student in 1963, sources close to the court said Thursday.

Kazuo Ishikawa, 63, was sentenced to life in prison for the 1963 murder of a female student. He was paroled in 1994.

His defense counsel had argued the court’s earlier decision to reject their second retrial application was unsatisfactory, the sources said.

Ishikawa filed his first appeal for a retrial while in prison. This request was rejected in 1985. His second appeal in 1986 was denied by the high court in 1999.

He was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and killing Yoshie Nakata, 16, in May 1963 in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture.

The case, widely known as the “Sayama case,” drew a great deal of publicity as Ishikawa’s supporters claimed that his prosecution was part of ongoing discrimination against “burakumin,” a caste traditionally discriminated against in Japan.

When arrested on an unrelated charge of theft, Ishikawa immediately confessed to the killing. However, he later retracted the confession and pleaded not guilty to the murder. In the second retrial request, Ishikawa’s defense team submitted to the high court a report introducing new evidence, including testimony that the handwriting contained in a threatening letter was not Ishikawa’s, and that parts of the letter could not possibly have been written by him, given his academic ability at the time.