The media have been divided over whether to identify a 19-year-old male who allegedly murdered a fellow student and then killed himself; some news organizations have disclosed his name and photo, while most, including The Japan Times, have not.
The Japan Times has decided not to identify the suspect in line with its general policy of not naming crime suspects under age 20.
The Yomiuri Shimbun identified the man by name and carried his photo in its Friday morning editions after he was found dead Thursday. Two major broadcasters — TV Asahi and Nippon TV — also released his name and photo. The major weekly Shukan Shincho did likewise in its edition that hit newsstands Friday.
Whether to identify crime suspects under 20 in media reports is a contentious issue in Japan as the Juvenile Law prohibits publishing information leading to identification of minors indicted or sent to family courts over alleged wrongdoings.
The Yomiuri said that while it respects the law’s prohibition, which is aimed at allowing for rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, the fact that the suspect is dead means the prohibition does not apply in this case.
The major daily also said it took the seriousness of the case and the suspect’s age into account.
Both Nippon Television Network Corp. and TV Asahi Corp. gave similar reasons for disclosing the suspect’s name and photo.
The male student was placed on the wanted list after allegedly strangling Ayumi Nakatani, 20, on Aug. 28 at the Tokuyama College of Technology in Shunan, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Other news organizations such as Kyodo News and public broadcaster NHK, as well as The Japan Times, have withheld the suspect’s identity.
Masaru Yamada, head of the City News Section of Kyodo’s Osaka bureau, said that because the suspect is dead, the concern for rehabilitation no longer applies.
“But we have withheld his identification since the case occurred more than 10 days ago. We cannot find good reasons to start identifying him now,” Yamada said.
The Asahi Shimbun said the case does not meet its in-house code of identifying suspects who are minors.
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