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Friday, July 02, 2010

Sayama Incident

Sayama Incident狭山事件

In early May, 1963, 16-year-old Yoshie Nakata never returned from her school near Sayama, Saitama Prefecture. The night she went missing a ransom note was delivered to her house.

Her sister delivered the 200,000 yen (about $550 at the time) demanded to the specified location, with police nearby. A man waiting at the spot spoke to her, and then fled. The police never found him.

Three days later, the girl's body was found at a nearby farm. She had been raped before being murdered.

In a panic, the police went into a nearby Buraku community - Japan's outcaste population - in late May and arrested 24-year-old Kazuo Ishikawa on an unrelated charge. Ishikawa, who was illiterate and a Burakumin, denied those and, later, the murder charges.

However, on June 20 after a month in custody he broke and admitted his guilt.

The police had lied to him, telling him that if he confessed he would be released after several years. Moreover, he never had access to a lawyer during his month-long interrogation.

He was instead convicted and sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment. He remains in prison to this day, still fighting for a retrial.

His cause has been taken up Dowa (Buraku) groups nationwide. The sign above is outside a public housing project in Demachiyanagi, Kyoto, which lies in a dowa community.

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