The Fukuoka Case involves the conviction of two men for burgurlary and murder in 1952. One of the defendants was executed though he claimed innocence. Japanese law allows for retrial even after death or execution, and his appeal is continuing.


Retrial sought for man hanged in 1975 The Japan Times: May 25, 2005 http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20050525a4.html

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Relatives of a man executed 30 years ago for a double-slaying in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1947 have asked the Fukuoka High Court for a retrial, saying he was tortured into making a false confession. Bearing a portrait of executed convict Takeo Nishi, Ryuji Furukawa (left), Kenjiro Ishii and Kiyoki Fujinaga enter the Fukuoka High Court on Monday to file for a retrial of the 1947 murders-for-money case known as the "Fukuoka Incident." Takeo Nishi was executed in 1975 at age 60 for his role in the "Fukuoka Incident," the fatal shooting of a black market dealer in military uniforms and a Chinese trader, after robbing them of 100,000 yen on May 20, 1947, in the city of Fukuoka. Lawyers for the relatives filed for the retrial Monday. Police "extracted a confession through torture, including hanging Nishi upside down, and he was forced to sign a false confession document," said one of the lawyers, adding Nishi was convicted on the basis of false evidence. The lawyers said Nishi was not at the scene when the murders took place, and there was no evidence he conspired with others charged in the case. Seven people including Nishi were arrested and six were convicted. Two of the six also filed for a retrial. They are Kenjiro Ishii, 88, and Kiyoki Fujinaga, 80. Ishii, who admitted killing the two, was initially sentenced to hang but his punishment was later reduced to life in prison after he was given amnesty. Convicted of killing for money, he was paroled in 1989. Video testimony Ishii provided about the torture Nishi received was submitted to the court as new evidence, the lawyers said. Ishii's lawyers said he should be acquitted of killing for money because he killed the two men after mistakenly thinking they were trying to assault him. The Japan Times: May 25, 2005 (C) All rights reserved

Retrial a tall order in quests to prove innocence The Japan Times: May 26, 2005 The few on death row who managed earned rare acquittals, but the hurdles span decades By MASAMI ITO Staff writer

For 33 years, Masaru Okunishi has been on death row. From behind the bars of the Nagoya Detention Center, he has pleaded his innocence and repeatedly demanded a retrial. page281_1Bearing a portrait of executed convict Takeo Nishi, Ryuji Furukawa (left), Kenjiro Ishii and Kiyoki Fujinaga enter the Fukuoka High Court on Monday to file for a retrial of the 1947 murders-for-money case known as the "Fukuoka Incident." His wishes were finally answered on April 5, when the Nagoya High Court granted him a retrial. Prosecutors, however, have challenged the court's decision, and the retrial is pending. Okunishi's nightmare began in 1961 in Nabari, Mie Prefecture, at a community gathering. More than 30 people took part in the event, where women were drinking wine and men were drinking sake. The fun, however, did not last. One woman after another began writhing in pain. In the end, five of them -- including Okunishi's wife and his lover -- would die, and 12 others would be injured from pesticide in the wine. Okunishi was convicted of poisoning the women. Although the Tsu District Court acquitted him in 1964, the Nagoya High Court reversed the ruling and sentenced him to hang in 1969. His death sentence was finalized by the Supreme Court in 1972. Okunishi has been filing for retrials ever since. It was in 2002 that the Nagoya High Court started deliberating his seventh retrial plea. The right to seek retrials is guaranteed under the Criminal Procedure Law. But only a handful of people have been fortunate enough to win one in the past few decades, according to lawyer Masato Nojima. That, he said, was only due to the "Shiratori Incident." The incident concerned the 1952 shooting of police officer Kazuo Shiratori in Sapporo. One of the people charged and convicted of the crime repeatedly pleaded innocence and demanded a retrial. Although a retrial was denied, the Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that if there is reasonable doubt concerning a guilty verdict, the one convicted should be given a retrial. "Before the Shiratori decision, there had been almost no cases that were granted retrials, because there had to be absolute proof or testimony proving innocence, like (finding) the real culprit or giving the accused a 100 percent alibi," said Nojima, one of the lawyers representing Okunishi. After the Shiratori ruling, retrials were given to four death-row inmates -- and all four were found not guilty. If approved, Okunishi will be the fifth death row inmate to win a retrial. But with prosecutors appealing, Nojima estimates it will take another year or two for the retrial decision to be a done deal. "The retrial system is for those convicted to prove their innocence, to save those who have wrongly been accused," Nojima said. Since the end of World War II, the Criminal Procedure Law has banned prosecutors from seeking retrials for people who have been acquitted (by the Supreme Court) although they can file an appeal against acquittal (by lower courts).(in complete disregard of the article 39 of the Constitution) "Regardless of whether there is new evidence, if there is a possibility of misjudgment, retrials should be granted because that is what this law is for -- to protect the innocent," he emphasized. But retrials remain extremely rare. The last time a death row inmate was granted a retrial was in 1986. One of the other people seeking reversals of guilty verdicts handed down decades ago is 88-year-old Kenjiro Ishii, who filed for a retrial Monday with the Fukuoka High Court. Ishii was arrested for the "Fukuoka Incident" in 1947, a murders-for-money case in which two clothing merchants, one of them a Chinese man, were shot dead on a street in downtown Fukuoka. Six men were convicted, and two of the six -- Ishii and -- were sentenced to death. Ishii and Nishi were convicted of conspiracy to murder for money. Ishii admitted shooting the two men, but claimed self-defense because it looked like one of them was reaching into his pocket for a gun. Nishi, on the other hand, argued that he was not at the scene of the crime. Both Ishii and Nishi claimed they met each other for the first time that day and denied they were coconspirators, but the court didn't believe them. In June 1975, Nishi was executed and Ishii was given amnesty. His sentence was reduced to life imprisonment on the same day Nishi died. Ishii served 28 years on death row and an additional 14 in Kumamoto Prison before being paroled in 1989. According to Ishii, a prison guard gave him a message from Nishi before he was executed. "Nishi said, 'Ishii, you fight for the both of us till the end,' " Ishii told The Japan Times. Nishi's last request is one of the main reasons Ishii has been seeking retrial. Those who filed for the retrial are Ishii, relatives of Nishi, and Kiyoki Fujinaga, another man convicted in the slayings. Supporting their campaign is the family of the late Tairyu Furukawa, a Buddhist priest from Seimeizan Schweitzer Temple in Kumamoto Prefecture. Furukawa, who died in 2000, first met Ishii and Nishi in 1952 when he was a chaplain at the Fukuoka Detention Center. After 10 years of communicating with the two men and conducting his own research into the crimes, Furukawa became convinced of their innocence and began a campaign for their retrial. Today, the campaign is being led by surviving members of the Furukawa family. The family, along with Sister Helen Prejean, renowned author of the award-winning book "Dead Man Walking," has been touring Japan to campaign for a retrial of the "Fukuoka Incident." On May 29, the tour will arrive in Tokyo, where they will hold a symposium under the theme, "The Death of Innocents -- the truth of the Fukuoka Incident," at YMCA Asia Youth Center in Chiyoda Ward. The Furukawa family said Nishi's execution was a tragedy and they will continue to campaign until the court grants a retrial. "My family finds it our duty to tell others the importance of life," said Ryuji, Furukawa's son. "(Filing for a retrial) is just the beginning. We will continue (the campaign) to tell people that the weight of one person's life is heavier than that of the whole Earth." The Japan Times: May 26, 2005 ================================
2011/12/10 Japanese Reportage~Petition Drive Underway

福岡事件:再審求め署名活動 47年発生、75年死刑執行 毎日新聞 2011年12月10日 15時00分

 「無実の人間を死刑にしたのではないか」--。1947年、福岡市で日本人と中国人の商人2人が射殺された「福岡事件」で、強盗殺人罪などで75年に死刑執行された西武雄(にし・たけお)元死刑囚らの再審運動支援者が10日午後、東京都内で集会を開く。終戦直後の混乱期に起きた死刑事件の再審開始要件を緩和する「再審特例法案」の制定を求め、集会後に署名活動を始める。事件の黒い霧を晴らそうと今年50年目を迎えた再審運動は新たなスタートを切る。  47年5月20日夜、福岡市博多区堅粕(かたかす)の路上で、軍服の取引をしていた2人が射殺された。間もなく、取引の立会人で手付金8万円を持ち帰った西元死刑囚と、射殺したことを認めた石井健治郎元服役囚ら計7人が逮捕された。福岡県警は西元死刑囚を首謀者、石井元服役囚を実行犯とする強盗殺人事件として調べを進めた。  西元死刑囚は「取引が終わるのを食堂で待っていたら、石井から2人を射殺したと告げられた。持ち帰った8万円は返却を要しない手付金だった」と容疑を否認。石井元服役囚は「もめ事をしていると思って近づいたら、一人が拳銃を出そうとしたので殺されると思って引き金を引いた」と訴えた。西元死刑囚は事件には関与しておらず、石井元服役囚は偶発的に2人を殺害したとの主張だった。  支援者によると、県警の取り調べは過酷を極めた。強盗殺人の共謀を認めさせようと、西元死刑囚を逆さづりにして頭を水につけ、正座した石井元服役囚の足の間に警棒を挟んで上から踏みつけた。供述していない内容や白紙の調書に無理やり指印を押したこともあったという。裁判は傍聴席を埋めた中国人から「全員を死刑にしろ」などと声が飛ぶ雰囲気の中で進められたという。  事件9年後の56年、最高裁で2人の死刑判決が確定。5回の再審請求はいずれも棄却され、75年に石井元服役囚が恩赦で無期懲役に減刑されたのと同じ日、西元死刑囚に死刑が執行された。石井元服役囚は89年に仮釈放された。  西元死刑囚の遺族らは05年、死刑執行後としては初の再審請求を福岡高裁に申し立てたが09年に棄却された。その後、再審請求権がある西元死刑囚の遺族や、石井元服役囚が亡くなり、再審運動は一時暗礁に乗り上げた。  運動継続のため持ち上がったのが再審特例法案。45年9月~52年4月に起訴された死刑囚の再審開始要件を刑事訴訟法が定める「明らかな新証拠」でなく「相当な新証拠」に緩和する法案だ。68年に国会に提案されたものの廃案になっていた。 支援者は再審対象に元死刑囚を加え、来年5月までに法案制定を求める10万人の署名を集め、国会議員による法案提出を目指す。  法案の対象になるのは福岡事件と帝銀事件(48年)だけ。対象期間当時の捜査は旧刑訴法下で人権軽視や自白偏重の弊害がみられ、占領軍の政治的影響力を完全に排除していたとは言えないという。  神戸学院大法科大学院の内田博文教授(刑事法)は「構造的な(冤罪、えん、ざい)は今も続いており、刑訴法の再審規定を緩和する必要がある。まずは終戦直後の死刑事件に限定した再審特例法案を議論して、誤判を是正する仕組み作りにつなげたい」と話している。【木下武】