The Tokyo District Court sentenced a 65-year-old man to life in prison Monday after convicting him of six crimes, including the 2004 robbery-murder of a restaurateur and attempted murder of a Tokyo subway employee.
Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for Tokuhisa Kumagai, who pleaded guilty, arguing there should be no leniency for crimes committed purely to get money, and he will never mend his ways. They quoted him as saying after his arrest that if he were to be released after serving time he would continue to rob.
Kumagai’s counsel had claimed he was repentant.
Presiding Judge Harumitsu Mori noted that Kumagai was “obsessed with money and harbored the dangerous idea that even human life could be taken” to get it.
The judge said Kumagai showed no desire to mend his ways and his victims would want to see him hanged.
But the court noted that only one of his victims died, and that Kumagai had no prior record of serious crime.
“The court feels hesitant in sentencing him to death, and he should instead spend his days atoning for his crimes,” the judge said. He added, however, that authorities should exercise caution when considering parole.
Kumagai shot Fumio Shimizu, 77, the owner of a restaurant in Yokohama’s Chinatown, in front of the victim’s home on the night of May 29, 2004. He then took Shimizu’s bag, which had some 430,000 yen in cash. Shimizu died the following day.
Kumagai was also convicted of a string of other crimes between May and June 23 that same year, including an attempt to set fire to the back office of a shop inside JR Tokyo Station after a failed theft attempt and inflicting serious injuries on a Tokyo subway employee at Shibuya Station when he tried to take the earnings from ticket machines.
He was arrested when he turned himself in to police June 26, 2004, with the gun used in the attacks. His counsel had argued in court this should be grounds for a lenient sentence.
During the trial, prosecutors quoted Shimizu’s wife as saying she could still not get over her loss, and grieved over the pain of having to live each day with hatred toward the perpetrator. Shimizu’s son testified that someone who can suddenly kill a total stranger for money should be hanged.
The family of the subway employee, who has yet to regain full use of his legs, was quoted as telling prosecutors during the investigation that he was still in deep shock.