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After more than 45 years on death row, 78-year-old Hakamada has been released from prison and granted a retrial, but he is still at risk.

The prosecution have until Monday to lodge an appeal. We need you to act fast and take action now to call on the Prosecution office not to file an appeal.

How to take action

Please follow these instructions on how to leave a message for the Shizuoka District Prosecution Office urging them not to file an appeal. Don't be put off that the website is in Japanese. This is a crutial moment and you can make a real difference.

Tip: If you use Google's Chrome browser it can translate the page for you.

Go to the feedback page for the Shizuoka District prosecution. To open the link in a new window, hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and click on the link. 

Then follow the instructions below.

  1. Enter the subject of your message in the first blank box (題名), e.g. “Hakamada case”. 
  2. Enter your message in the second box (内容). This needs to be less than 1,000 characters. 
  3. Enter your name in the third box (氏名). 
  4. Enter your name again in the fourth box (ふりがな).
    Do not fill out any further boxes. 
  5. Click on the left button (記入内容の確認) which will take you to the next page. 
  6. Finally, click on the left button at the bottom (送信).

When you have completed these steps, you will see confirmation that your message has been sent.

Sample message

Feel free to use the following text for your message, or create your own.

Dear Tetsuo Nagano,

Following the decision by the Shizuoka District Court to grant Hakamada Iwao a retrial, I urge you not to file an immediate appeal.

In light of the new evidence that has emerged related to Hakamada's case, and taking into account his claims that he was coerced into signing a confession during the initial interrogation in 1966, it is vital that the case is re-examined. As Hakamada is now elderly, and in poor health as a result of his many years in prison, the retrial must go ahead without delay.

Yours respectfully and sincerely, 
[Your Name]

Sample message (Japanese)

静岡地方検察庁 検事正 長野哲生様

拝啓 静岡地裁の再審開始の決定をうけとめて、即時抗告をしないように要請します。

袴田事件に関する新証拠に照らし、また、1966年の逮捕当初の取調べから自白を強要されたとの袴田さんの主張を考慮すれば、この事件はもう一度審理をおこなうべきです。袴田さんは高齢であり、長期間の拘禁で健康状態も懸念されますので、速やかに再審を開始すべきです。

敬具

 

Background

Hakamada was a factory worker in his thirties living in Shimizu, a city in the Shizuoka Prefecture on Japan's Honshu Island. He'd not long retired from a career as a featherweight boxing champion (he had ranked sixth in Japan) and was working for a miso-producing factory, when he was arrested in 1966 over the suspicious deaths of a family of four. The manager of the factory where Hakamada worked had been murdered along with his wife and two children. The family was robbed, their bodies left in the house, and the house set alight.
 
The finger was pointed at Hakamada, and on 18 August 1966 he was arrested and detained in a police cell. He has never left custody since.

Torture in detention

Hakamada was interrogated for 20 days with no lawyer present. The confession Hakamada signed at the end of his detention would form the basis of his conviction.
 
Later, Hakamada retracted his statement, claiming that police had coerced him into signing it after nearly three weeks of intensive interrogation, where he says he was beaten, threatened and forced to confess.

Sentenced on scant evidence

Hakamada was brought before Shizuoka District Court on 11 September 1968. In the courtroom, Hakamada retracted the confession obtained by police during his detention.
 
The evidence was questionable: of 45 documents presented by the prosecution as signed confessions by Hakamada, only one was accepted by the judges as being legitimately signed by Hakamada in free will; the other 44 were dismissed.
 
Despite this, he was found guilty of the four murders and sentenced to death.
 

Retrial granted, but still in danger

On 27 March, Hakamada was granted a retrial by the Shizuoka District Court and released from prison after more than 45 years.
 
This is a critical moment in a landmark case. The Prosecutor's Office have until Monday 31 March to file an appeal against the decision to grant a retrial.
 
Hakamada needs your help right now to urgently call on the Prosecutor's Office not to file an appeal.
 
Hakamada is now very elderly and suffers from poor physical and mental health as a result of his long years on death row. 

Judge at Hakamada's trial believes he is innocent

'Since I had convicted him, I felt extremely guilty that I had to sentence and innocent man. I still do, to this day.'
Kumamoto Norimichi

Kumamoto Norimichi was one of three judges on Hakamada’s case. Aged 28 at the time, he was the youngest of the judges and (in his words) 'for some reason, I was appointed to be the main associate judge… I had to write up the sentence at the end.'
 
During the trial, he did not believe there was enough evidence to convict Hakamada of the murders. 'Looking at the evidence, there was almost nothing but the confession, and that had been taken under intense interrogation.'
 
Kumamoto put this to the older judges, who disagreed. 'I was unable to convince the other two judges that Hakamada was not guilty, so I had to sentence him.'
 
His decision haunted Kumamoto: 'I could not bear the burden of conscience so six months later I had to resign as a judge.'
 
Forty years later, Kumamoto spoke about Hakamada’s case to the UN. He still maintains that Hakamada is innocent, and believes that he should not have been sentenced to death on such scant evidence.
 
'In cases where strong doubts exists over the guilt or innocence… If the prisoner is executed, the damage cannot be reversed.'
 

Not enough evidence to execute

International laws around use of the death penalty make it clear that anyone sentenced to death must have received a thorough and fair trial with undisputed evidence for their conviction.
 
‘Capital punishment may be imposed only when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts.’
UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolution 1984/50: Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty (adopted May 1984)

According to Kumamoto Norimichi, no such evidence exists.