This letter was not published by the Japan Times, so I am uploading it here.
While it is heartening to read that DNA evidence finally resulted in an exoneration for Toshikazu Sugaya, it is an outrage that a man presumably forced to confess by overzealous officials merited only an indirect apology from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office (June 11: Freed Lifer: apology is no solace).
Police and prosecutors are on record as opposing taped confessions, and one wonders whether they fear that their alleged use of forced confessions might thus result in their own indictment. In the same issue, we learn that four staffers at a Hiroshima Prefectural youth reformatory have been arrested for a series of assaults, indicating how widespread violence and criminality by those entrusted to enforce the law are.
A pamphlet now being distributed on the Oedo and other subways lines suggests why official violence in Japan has long been under-reported and tolerated and should raise alarm bells. It lists Tokyo’s very own governor, along with the Totsuka Yacht School, as participant-sponsors of a symposium, “Corporal Punishment is Education” at Hollywood Univerity on June 26. The headmaster of the yacht school was himself sentenced to prison in 1997 for his role in the deaths of several children who drowned while escaping corporal punishment.