Arrangements are being made for a meeting between Pope Francis and Iwao Hakamada, who is seeking a retrial for his conviction in a 1966 quadruple homicide, during the pontiff’s visit to Japan in late November, it was learned Saturday.
The meeting may be held just before or after a Mass planned at the Tokyo Dome, according to supporters of Hakamada, 83, whose death sentence was suspended in 2014.
It is still uncertain, however, whether the meeting will become a reality due in part to Hakamada’s health problems, the supporters said.
The pope opposes the death penalty, and any remarks he may make about Japan’s system of capital punishment are expected to attract attention.
According to supporters, Hakamada’s lawyers and others sent a letter to the pope last year, expressing hope for a meeting.
Hakamada was arrested and indicted in 1966 over the murder of four people in the same family in Shizuoka Prefecture. His death sentence was finalized in 1980.
In 2014, about 48 years after the arrest, he was released from prison after Shizuoka District Court granted a retrial to him. But the Tokyo High Court overrode the decision in 2018.
The suspension of the death sentence and imprisonment was maintained, but Hakamada’s side has appealed to the Supreme Court.