• Kyodo News


Relatives of victims of unsolved slayings have launched an effort to abolish the statute of limitations for murder and are calling on other such families to join their group.

The group, to be officially set up next month, is being promoted by five families.

One of the organizers is Kenji Kobayashi, 62. There are only about three years left until the 15-year limitation expires on the 1996 murder of his daughter.

Another organizer is Yoshiyuki Miyazawa, 80, whose son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren were killed in Tokyo in 2000.

“Let’s give a cry on behalf of the murdered people against the officials in charge of national politics and legal authorities who have effectively ignored the statute of limitations system,” the promoters said in a statement aimed at other families.

The group, to be called Sora no Kai, plans to hold its first meeting in late February.

The statute of limitations for capital crimes such as murder was extended to 25 years from 15 years in 2005, but the families are questioning the existence of the limitation system itself.

According to the Justice Ministry and other sources, statutes of limitations were initially established because evidence can be scattered or lost and the memory of people connected to a case can fade over time, making it difficult to prove that someone committed a crime.

Another reason was that demands for a harsh penalty can wane with the passage of time.

But proving crimes in court, even after many years have elapsed, has become less of a challenge due to advances in criminal investigations technology, such as DNA analysis.

The e-mail address to contact the group is jikou74@nifmail.jp.

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