• Kyodo


The Utsunomiya District Court sentenced a 40-year-old man to death Thursday for murdering two boys in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture, last year.

Presiding Judge Susumu Iibuchi handed the death penalty to Akihiro Shimoyama, who was accused of throwing Kazuto Kobayashi, 4, and his brother, Hayato, 3, from a bridge into a river, causing them to drown on Sept. 12 last year. The judge also slammed a child welfare center that suspected the boys were being abused for failing to act.

Shimoyama’s crime “was self-centered and we cannot find any extenuating circumstances.” Iibuchi said.

Shimoyama immediately filed an appeal, his lawyer said.

The boys’ father, Yasunori Kobayashi, 41, was a friend of the defendant, and he and his two children were living together with Shimoyama and his kids in Shimoyama’s apartment at the time.

In the ruling, the court determined that Shimoyama abused the boys due to his discontent over the living arrangement, as Kobayashi did not pay any expenses.

Shimoyama killed the boys because was also afraid their father would find out he had struck the pair the previous day and would punish him, the court said.

Prosecutors said Shimoyama routinely beat the boys.

Iibuchi criticized a local child consultation center for having failed to help the boys even though staff believed Shimoyama abused them.

The center kept the boys for a short period in July 2004 but released them to their father without thoroughly probing how they had been treated at home, according to the court.

The response of the center was regrettable “to the point where the very reason for its existence may be questioned,” the judge said.

Shimoyama was also convicted of taking stimulants with Kobayashi, who had already been found guilty. The two, both divorced, had attended the same junior high school.

Shimoyama’s defense had pleaded for leniency, saying the accused was in diminished mental competence on the day of the murder due to the influence of stimulants.

The court dismissed the argument, saying he was in a fully competent mental state.

It was earlier reported that Shimoyama had his own kids in the car with him when he threw Kobayashi’s sons off the bridge.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.