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A 48-year-old rightwing extremist pleaded guilty Tuesday to stabbing to death Diet member Koki Ishii of the Democratic Party of Japan.

In the opening session of his Tokyo District Court trial, Hakusui Ito, representative of the rightwing group Shukojuku, said he had nothing to add to prosecutors’ account that he murdered Ishii, 61, on Oct. 25 with a kitchen knife in front of the lawmaker’s house in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

Ito, wearing a bright yellow jacket, occasionally glared at the gallery while prosecutors read the indictment. He sometimes yawned and closed his eyes as if he was napping.

In their opening statement, prosecutors said Ito initially approached Ishii around 1992, a year before he was first elected to the Diet on the ticket of the now-defunct Japan New Party, saying he would help him in the election campaign.

Ishii joined the DPJ, the largest opposition party, in 1996.

According to prosecutors, Ito, who runs an effectively inoperative one-man rightwing group, saw Ishii as a promising politician and a perfect target for extortion. Ito had earlier pressed other politicians for money, claiming to be a “rightwing political activist” offering advice.

He started to hang around Ishii, offering him such advice and demanding “taxi money” of about 20,000 yen to 50,000 yen on each occasion. Ito also pressured Ishii’s secretaries into buying sake above retail prices as well as books on rightwing ideology.

Prosecutors said Ishii was unable to refuse such demands from Ito, since he believed that as a politician, he needed to maintain relations with all kinds of voters.

When Ishii successfully ran for re-election, Ito became convinced that the Diet member had achieved political success thanks to his advice and began to resent Ishii when he started avoiding him around the end of 2001, the prosecutors told the court.

Ito had earlier told police that he decided to kill Ishii because the lawmaker failed to help him pay his rent. Ito, who reportedly had problems with landlords over chronically late rent payments, was twice evicted from apartments.

When Ishii rejected his request to support him after the second eviction from a Setagaya Ward apartment Oct. 17, Ito started thinking about killing him, prosecutors claimed.

Apart from the kitchen knife, Ito carried another knife and two “shuriken” ninja-style throwing knives when he attacked Ishii. He hid more such knives in a box on his scooter, planning to use them if Ishii’s chauffeur, who was at the scene at the time of the murder, tried to stop him, according to prosecutors.

Ito turned himself in to police one day after the murder, after seeing news reports that a rightwing extremist was being sought.

In a news conference following the day’s trial session, Ishii’s Russian wife, Natasha, 58, expressed shock at the defendant’s “arrogant attitude” in court.

“I got the impression that violence has a comfortable place in this country,” she said.

Pleading with the mass media and police to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to the murder, she added, “Koki was about to expose the state of the nation’s underworld-linked finances, and there is clearly someone out there who is happy that he is dead.”

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