JIN-507 -- The Hayashi curry poisoning

J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends in Japan.
Issue No. 507 Wednesday April 22, 2009, Tokyo

-----------------------------------------------------------
Every PBXL wireless phone comes standard with:
a big color screen,
a 03 Tokyo number,
voicemail,
and more!

Everything you expect from the best office phone system
on the market.

Call today! 03-4550-2557
Get your new phone system in 3 steps: http://www.pbxl.jp/plans
PBXL is Hosted Business Telephony
Monthly seminars at Cisco HQ: http://www.pbxl.jp/seminarstt
More about PBXL: http://www.pbxl.jp/aboutus2
-----------------------------------------------------------

This week saw another chapter in the death penalty debate in Japan
with the Supreme Court on Tuesday upholding the district court-level
guilty verdict of Masumi Hayashi. The conviction of Hayashi, a 47-year-
old former insurance saleswoman, was one of the less clear-cut examples
of verdicts within a legal system known for its near 100-percent conviction rate.

In 1998, at a summer festival in the city of Wakayama, 4 people died
and 63 others became ill after eating poisoned curry.Wakayama was
charged and later convicted of the crime and sentenced to death on
circumstantial evidence. A clear motive was never clarified within the
courts although, according to a Kyodo News report, prosecutors
insisted she was "infuriated by feeling alienated from housewives in
the neighborhood" when she went to where the curry was being prepared
on the day of the festival.

Hayashi, has maintained the entire time that she is innocent.

The court also upheld the conviction of the attempted murder of her
husband and a male acquaintance by, on a separate occasion, giving
them arrowroot gruel, laced with arsenic. The prosecution said on that
occasion, Hayashi had attempted to commit murder in order to obtain
her husband’s insurance money.

During the different trials, husband Kenji Hayashi, a 63-year-old pest
exterminator, has supported his wife and yesterday spoke out about the
decision.

Here’s what he said in the Kyodo News report:

"(The Supreme Court ruling) is regrettable because I've been trying to
prove her innocence up till today," he said before dressing down the
entire criminal justice system. His claims covered the gamut from the
"flawed police investigation" to the "bogus crime scenario cooked up
by prosecutors" and the "false conviction" of his wife by all three courts.

"The Supreme Court only rubber-stamped the rulings of the lower courts
and therefore is outrageous," He said. "I will continue to do my
utmost to support her and never give in."

Among those who died from the incident were a 10-year-old child and a
16-year-old high school girl. Many still suffer from the after effects
of the poisoning.

It’s one of the more bizarre and complicated cases to have faced the
nation’s courts over the past decade. The prosecution’s opening
arguments were over 200 pages long and were built around testimony
stating that the arsenic in the curry matched arsenic found at
Hayashi’s house. The previous arsenic poisoning of her husband was
also a major factor.

The story was jumped on by all the major media outlets and as a result,
about 5000 people attempted to get into the initial trial in May of
1999. (There were only 80 seats available). Also, following media
reports, there were a series of copycat cases that resulted in
fatalities. A man died after drinking a canned drink that contained
cyanide. In another case, a man confessed to trying to poison his
colleagues to draw attention away from his plan to embezzle his
company. A 15-year-old girl also admitted to mailing bottles of lethal
disinfectant which she had labeled as diet drinks, to her teacher and
26 classmates.

So, now, a decade later, the initial decision has been supported by
the Supreme Court. On its surface the case is ambiguous from both sides
– In the late 1990s, Hayashi’s husband was convicted of insurance fraud
and received a short prison term. Had his wife tried to poison him for
insurance before the curry poisoning incident? But if the mass
poisoning at the summer festival had been carried out by Hayashi
simply due to spite directed at some neighborhood housewives, why
would she have laced curry that would then be fed to dozens of
innocents, including children, and how does this relate to previous
insurance fraud schemes? Also, Kenji Hayashi was a pest exterminator
so doesn’t it make sense they would have poisonous chemicals at their
home?

The facts in this case remain unclear and despite the questionable
treatment of those suspected of crimes at the hands of police, Hayashi
has continually maintained her innocence.

So under these circumstances, should the death penalty be awarded?

If you've got any comments you can place them here.

Michael Condon
Editor-in-chief

----------------------IWINE.JP------------------------------
en.iwine.jp – Japan’s online wine superstore: vintage wines,
wine clubs, wine events, and more!

The 2009 Spring Tasting. Join us tasting 100 wines for
only 3,000 Yen!
Click the link for more info: http://tiny.cc/nPUs0

Want to find a favorite wine? Why not do it the way the
pros do: by tasting lots of wines at once! iwine.jp is proud
to present our first large-format wine tasting event, featuring
over 100 wines from all around the world. Take your time and
taste a variety of flavors from the varietals and styles you
enjoy most...or branch off on a new journey of exploration.

*All guests receive JPY1,000 off any purchase over JPY 5,000
plus get bigger discounts the more you buy!

When and where?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 7pm-10pm

Venue: Waterline floating dock, TY Harbor Brewery
For more info on the venue, click here: http://tiny.cc/1woY6

Tickets only sold online.
Click here to find out more information and purchase tickets:
http://tiny.cc/hQagZ
-----------------------------------------------------------
----------------- Web Hosting in Japan --------------------

With prices comparable to those available in the US, and a
full range of hosting services, there is no need to put up with
slow-downloading websites hosted overseas anymore.

With nearly 10 years experience in the Japanese market,
Tsukaeru.net provides great value for money to both the
Japanese and English speaking clients.
We provide low cost shared hosting accounts from just 210
yen per month,to fully managed complex hosting.

Customers moving from our competitors receive
up to JPY10,000 cashback on completion of migration.

http://tsukaeru.net/en
Isao 050-3533-8241

-----------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------------------------------------------
Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - Seminar-Tuesday, May 12th

Speaker: Rob Van Nylen, Group CEO of JCS bvba

Rob Van Nylen's past endeavors have included working with
Euro-Japan Consulting Ltd. to help establish and grow the
Manneken, Belgian waffle shop chain to over 100 locations.

Rob is currently working as Group CEO of JCS bvba which is
marketing high-end decorative mirror products through Arte
Japan Ltd. and introducing a soon to be smash hit, Poken
through his distribution company Akoni KK.

Please sign up early while seats are available.

Date/Time: Tuesday, May 12th-Doors open at 6:30
(Seminar starts at 7:00)
Location: The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com

-----------------------------------------------------------

------------------- ICA Event - May 21 --------------------

Speaker: Tom Garry, Director of Sales Engineering,
Verizon Business

Title: Creating IT flexibility to contain costs, increase
productivity and manage IT architectures

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2009
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

http://www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map
-----------------------------------------------------------

Comments

The death penalty... It's bad in other countries when occasionally the judicial system fails the accused. In Japan... well it's OK because the criminal justice system here is perfect. With a nearly 100% conviction rate, it surely means that they never make mistakes. We also know that the police are always honest and would never lie. They would never abuse their power either. No, Japan's legal system is the best in the world and anyone who tries to argue otherwise is destined to lose that debate!
Pahleeez!!

Not that a decade is a short time, but it seems that the Courts are once again eager to put this matter behind them. After reviewing the case the Supreme Court upholds Hayashi`s sentence, but isn't the fact that there ARE questions about both her innocence and prosecutorial procedures enough incentive to change that sentence to life imprisonment? Executing someone convicted of a capital offense beyond an irrefutable doubt is an accepted punishment, but too often we have seen cases of convictions overturned years later on the basis of some new evidence. No judicial system is perfect and in cases of even the smallest doubt it is only logical and humane to err on the side of caution.

In a country without double jeopardy, she would have got off the murder charge. She could have claimed "Yes, I poisoned those people, but I never meant to kill them." Proving the intent to murder would have been impossible. In Japan, the prosecution can go on until they get the conviction. But it was completely the wrong charge to bring here. Manslaughter or involuntary homicide, yes, and relatively easy to prove, and on the scale that she committed her crime, she should have got life without parole.

As to whether the death penalty is justified, that's a completely different matter. As a militant pacifist, I believe it is never justified under any circumstances (for a wide variety of unoriginal reasons, all of which you have heard before).

business